Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Israel to brazenly solidarize himself with the genocidal war the Israeli state is waging on the Palestinians in Gaza. At his joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he gave an open-ended pledge of French military support to Netanyahu’s government.
As Macron spoke, over 7,000 Palestinians had been killed and a quarter of Gaza’s buildings leveled, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wage a genocidal war on the Palestinians to punish them for their October 6-7 uprising against the illegal, 16-year Israeli blockade of Gaza. After closed-door talks with Netanyahu, Macron came out before the cameras to pledge his “solidarity and friendship” with this bloody onslaught.
Macron then called to involve France and its NATO allies in a massive escalation across the Middle East. He proposed that the “international coalition against the Islamic State, which we used for our operations in Iraq and Syria, also fight Hamas.” He warned Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Iranian regime and Houthi militias in Yemen that if they attempted any operations in support of Gaza, it would lead to a “regional conflagration.”
What Macron was proposing is a neocolonial war waged by a coalition of all the major NATO imperialist powers not only on Gaza, but across the entire Middle East. The United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia and Denmark all joined this coalition. It bombed cities, civilian targets and Islamic State (IS) militia units in the context of NATO’s war for regime change in Syria, and to protect the neocolonial Iraqi puppet regime set up during the 2003-2011 US-led occupation of Iraq.
Macron’s utterly reckless remarks amount to a pledge that NATO would join in a full-scale war across the entire Middle East. With NATO already at war with Russia in Ukraine, this could rapidly trigger a direct military clash on a global scale between the NATO alliance, on the one hand, and Iran, Russia and China on the other.
As Macron spoke, there were mounting exchanges of fire between Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and IDF troops in northern Israel, and villages on both sides of the border were being evacuated. Its second-in-command, Naim Qassem, said Hezbollah is “fully ready” and will not allow threats from the US government, which has sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region, to deter it. The IDF have also launched air strikes on targets in Syria, which hosts Russian and Iranian military forces.
Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a continued escalation of the genocidal Israeli war with Gaza could provoke a broader entry of countries across the Middle East into the war. He said, “If the crimes of the Zionist [Israeli] regime continue, Muslims and resistance forces will become impatient, and no one can stop them … The bombardment of Gaza must stop immediately.”
Yesterday, at the United Nations, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pledged that US forces would intervene “swiftly and decisively” against any Iranian military action to support Hamas. US officials including US Senator Lindsay Graham have threatened air strikes on Iran’s oil industry. This directly raises the prospect of a NATO clash with Russia and with China, which in 2021 signed a treaty pledging mutual military assistance with Iran, now a key source of oil and gas for China.
At the press conference with Macron, Netanyahu threatened to wage war against an “axis of evil” involving “Hamas, Iran and the Houthis” as well as Hezbollah. Saying there would be “horrible consequences” and that “devastation against Hezbollah will be unimaginable” if it intervenes against an IDF ground invasion of Gaza, he indicated that the IDF would provoke mass Lebanese civilian casualties: “Because (Hezbollah) are embedding themselves in the civilian population like Hamas, we will have to take action against them.”
The Macron government and the NATO imperialist powers as a whole are backing a war waged by genocidal methods of collective punishment against populations across the entire Near East. It is the end product of over 30 years of neocolonial wars in the region by the NATO powers, since the first Gulf War against Iraq and the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The relentless aggression waged by the NATO imperialist powers is plunging the world into a third world war, after the two world wars of the 20th century.
Macron lied shamelessly, presenting the support of his government and of the NATO alliance for military escalation across the Middle East as a war for democracy against terrorism. He said, “The struggle must be waged without mercy, but not without rules. We are democracies waging war on terrorists, democracies who respect the laws of war and who ensure humanitarian access. We are democracies who do not target civilians, either in Gaza or anywhere else.”
While advocating a “military and implacable response” against Gaza, Macron claimed he wanted a “decisive relaunch of a political process with the Palestinians” in order to grant the Palestinian people “a territory and a state.”
In reality, Macron applauded a war waged on an oppressed, largely defenseless population of Gaza implicating the IDF in a string of crimes against humanity. Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007 in defiance of UN rulings that its blockade was illegal, and, in the first two weeks of the conflict, blocked all water, food, and fuel to the impoverished enclave. The Israeli bombing of the Ahli Arab hospital last week, which cost hundreds of civilian lives, exposes the barbaric character of the war on Gaza.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that two-thirds of Gaza’s 72 health facilities, including 12 of its 35 hospitals, had completely ceased treatment due to lack of power. Most of the remaining facilities, including hospitals where premature babies will die if power is cut to their incubators, have at most a day of electricity remaining.
Macron himself briefly acknowledged this reality, claiming that he and Netanyahu “spoke for a long time … about re-establishing the electrical supply in hospitals, without it being possible for it to be used to wage war.”
Such statements only make clear, however, that the French government is perfectly aware, as it endorses Netanyahu, that he is waging war on civilians and committing crimes against humanity. As Macron insists that the IDF respects the laws of war and grants humanitarian access to Gaza, he is in fact deliberately lying to the people of France and the world.
Macron’s claim that he is seeking an Israeli-Palestinian peace by endorsing Netanyahu—who has issued an illegal order to over 1.1 million inhabitants of Gaza to leave their homes—is obscene. In reality, he is defending an attempt to “solve” the Palestinian issue by methods of genocide and ethnic cleansing that fascist governments of 20th century Europe would have understood easily.
This has provoked a wave of demonstrations across the United States, Europe, the Middle East and internationally against the Gaza war. Stopping the horrific onslaught against Gaza and averting the imperialist powers’ downward spiral into World War III requires the mobilization of the international working class in a struggle against imperialist war and the capitalist system.
In this, there can be no political compromises with Macron, a banker who is widely despised as the “president of the rich.” As he revealed by sending his riot police to assault mass protests and strikes against his overwhelmingly unpopular pension cuts this spring, the Macron government rules openly and consciously against the people. In order to end the constant diversion of social wealth to war spending and halting a catastrophic global war, there is no other way than to build a movement in the working class to bring down his government.