Paris, November 9, 2023 (Online Desk): French President Emmanuel Macron is going to host a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza on Thursday. However, Israel, which is responsible for reducing Gaza to rubble with massive destructive bombings, will not be present at the conference.
“All governments, including Israel, have an interest” in improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, a Macron aide told reporters on condition of anonymity before the conference.
According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, more than 10,500 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli military operations. Most of them are women and children.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there will be no fuel deliveries to Gaza and no ceasefire with Hamas until the hostages are released.
Macron spoke with Netanyahu on Tuesday and the pair will speak again after Thursday’s aid summit, the Elysee Palace said.
A source close to Hamas told AFP on Wednesday that talks were underway to release a dozen hostages held by Hamas, including six Americans, in exchange for a three-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
Another source said Qatar was brokering talks in coordination with the United States to “release 10-15 hostages in exchange for a one- to two-day ceasefire.”
Qatar, like Egypt, has been playing a key role in efforts to bring more aid to the Gaza Strip.
Macron spoke on Tuesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Elysee Palace said.
Thursday’s aid conference was hastily put together on the sidelines of the annual Paris Peace Forum on November 10-11.
France’s foreign ministry said last week that the idea is to “get closer to all the major donors and speed up aid to Gaza, which will include donations of goods such as food, energy and medical supplies, financial and humanitarian aid.”
Some Arab countries are expected to send representatives, although the Palestinian Authority will send its prime minister and Egypt a ministerial representative.
EU chiefs Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen will be joined by the prime ministers of Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg.
No joint announcement is planned at the end of the conference.
“France does not want the conference to become a platform to condemn Israel,” a European diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
International concern over the fate of Gaza’s civilians is growing. Ordinary citizens are not even able to escape from the areas captured by the Israeli siege. Because of this, calls for a humanitarian ‘pause’ or a complete ceasefire have intensified.