France is hosting today, at the initiative of its president Emmanuel Macron, a “humanitarian conference” aimed at providing aid to the Gaza Strip, which has been made almost impossible by Israel’s constant shelling of the enclave following the bloody attack by Hamas. on October 7.
The Israeli government will not be represented at the Elysee Palace conference, but Macron spoke on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will be in touch with him again after it ends, according to the French presidency.
Also on Tuesday, Macron spoke by phone with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose countries play a key role in improving aid to the Gaza Strip.
But Arab countries will not be represented at a high level at this conference.
The Palestinian Authority will be represented by its prime minister and Egypt, which controls Rafah, the only crossing to Gaza that does not lead to Israel, will send a ministerial delegation.
Instead, the conference will be closely watched by non-governmental organizations, which have constantly complained about insufficient access to the Gaza Strip and the difficulties in providing aid to civilians there while the bombardment continues.
Appeal of 13 NGOs
Thirteen NGOs demanded yesterday, Wednesday, an “immediate ceasefire” and “the provision of guarantees for the entry of aid into Gaza, as well as respect for international humanitarian law”.
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis, it is a crisis of humanity,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
The UN estimates the needs of the population of Gaza and the West Bank at $1.2 billion by the end of the year.
“It is absolutely clear to the president of the Republic that Israel has the right to defend itself,” comments Macron’s entourage, but “today, there are too many victims in Gaza.”
The conference aims to reach a common assessment of the situation in the Palestinian enclave and “mobilize all partners and donors to respond to these needs,” according to an adviser to the French president.
As the French Foreign Ministry announced, the talks will focus on two issues: the first is the provision of food aid, medical equipment and energy, “a complicated issue because Israel does not wish to allow fuel to enter the Gaza Strip.”
The other issue will be pledges for donations as well as discussions on “humanitarian access” to the enclave.
No joint announcement
The Gaza Strip is under complete siege following an unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas, the Palestinian movement that controls the enclave. The Israeli military has been conducting continuous bombing and more recently ground operations there.
Calls for a “pause”, “ceasefire” or “ceasefire” have increased in recent days in order to facilitate the access of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the release of the more than 240 hostages held by Hamas. But the Israeli prime minister again yesterday ruled out a ceasefire unless the hostages are released first.
But Macron’s entourage estimates that “Hamas will probably not release the hostages while the operation continues under the current conditions. So the humanitarian pause seems equally important to us in order to achieve the release of the hostages.”
No joint communique will be issued after the conference in order to avoid endless debates about the use of “one word or another,” the same source said.
“Paris insists on the strictly practical, operational, humanitarian nature of the conference and the Elysee Palace does not wish to turn into a platform for condemning Israel,” a European source said.
The prime ministers of Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg will attend the conference, as will the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. U.S. Undersecretary for Civilian Security Uzra Zeya will also participate.