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northern front

DM Gallant snubs French mediation offer as Hezbollah continues bombardment of northern Israel

US envoy Hochstein expected in Israel, France offered trilateral mediation with US

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant holds an operational assessment on the northern border, June 9, 2024 (Photo: Shachar Yurman)

In an unusually harsh public statement, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant snubbed a French proposal by President Emmanuel Macron that would see France, the United States, and Israel jointly working in a “contact group” to deescalate the explosive situation on Israel’s northern border.

“As we fight a just war, defending our people, France has adopted hostile policies against Israel,” Gallant wrote on 𝕏, in a rare statement just hours before the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

“In doing so, France ignores the atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli children, women, and men. Israel will not be a party to the trilateral framework proposed by France,” he wrote, without going into details about the reasons for his rejection.

Gallant’s reaction was apparently prompted by the decision of French authorities to exclude Israel’s defense industry from participating in the Eurosatory defense trade show in France, which opens on Monday.

Eurosatory is one of the world’s largest defense fairs with more than 1,700 firms scheduled to present to over 60,000 attendees from 150 countries. Israel was supposed to participate with 74 companies.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah continued its attacks on Israel over the weekend, causing damage and additional fires, which in recent weeks have destroyed an area of over 45,000 dunams (11,120 acres.)

The terror group followed up its 35-rocket barrage at Kiryat Shmona on Friday morning by launching three rockets at the area of Hanita and Ya’ara, five rockets at Margaliot, and six rockets at Bar’am, where a fire caused by the explosions continued burning deep into the night.

Two more rockets were fired at Shtula and Metula. Overall, Hezbollah fired some 60 rockets at Israel on Friday.

The following morning, the IDF confirmed that two anti-tank missiles hit the strategically important air control base on Mount Meron, emphasizing that no soldiers were wounded and the function of the systems wasn’t compromised.

The IDF then stated that it had eliminated a Hezbollah terrorist on a motorcycle in the Lebanese village of Aytaroun.

Later in the day, Hezbollah claimed to have attacked an IDF post in the Western Galilee town of Goren with a swarm of drones. The IDF confirmed that four drones managed to penetrate the Israeli defenses and exploded in open areas.

Until now, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy, Amos Hochstein, was the main mediator leading the efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which opened hostilities on Oct. 8 in support of Hamas.

Hochstein is due to arrive in Israel on Monday to discuss the escalating attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and to seek a way to prevent an all-out war, according to the Axios news outlet.

Gallant is scheduled to visit the United States later this month for the second time during the war, the Times of Israel reported Saturday.

Speaking at the G7 summit last Thursday, French President Macron offered his country as a mediator and proposed setting up a trilateral summit with the US and Israel.

Gallant’s harsh comments about the French trilateral initiative were met with disapproval by senior officials from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, causing them to denounce Gallant in public.

“We disapprove of Defense Minister Gallant’s attacks on France,” unnamed diplomats said in a rare statement. “Beyond the existing disagreements between Israel and France, the statements against France are incorrect and inappropriate,” they added, pointing out that France had taken “an active role” in defending Israel against Iran’s drone and missile attack in April.

“From the start of the war,” the diplomats said, “France has taken a clear line of denunciation and sanctions against Hamas, and takes an aggressive line in everything having to do with sanctions in the EU against Iran and its missile and drone project, and was a partner in the IAEA Board of Governors decision to advance a sanctions process against Iran’s nuclear program.”

“The Foreign Ministry will continue to fight to protect Israel’s interests on the northern border with all the relevant players,” the diplomats concluded.

Shortly before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, Gallant again responded to the unnamed diplomats, with his office saying that they were “hiding” behind their anonymity and that Israel wouldn’t involve France in its deliberations on the critical situation in the north.

“Israel will not grant France status in deliberations about its security needs in Lebanon. This position is shared by the US and Israel,” said the statement from Gallant’s office.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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