Disagreement within French Diplomatic Corps over Macron’s Pro-Israel Policy

A number of French diplomats are urging the Elysée to take a more balanced position in Southwest Asia, and regret France’s loss of influence in the Global South. The growing dissent among diplomats had already been reported by Le Monde on Nov. 8, in an article headlined “French Diplomatic Corps Is Frustrated by Emmanuel Macron’s Choices on the Middle East”. It notes that the “tensions are discreet, never openly expressed, but very real. Emmanuel Macron’s stance on the war between Israel and Hamas is causing irritation, not to say strong reservations, within the French diplomatic establishment.”

Such pressure clearly contributed to Macron’s decision to come out in favor of a ceasefire at the humanitarian conference held in Paris on Nov. 9. He, and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar are the only western leaders to have supported such an approach.

Unsurprisingly, as Le Monde confirms, the most criticism is coming from the staff of the North Africa and Middle East department in the Foreign Ministry. “Their frustration is heightened by the fact that, internally, the conflict is fueling the traditional rift with those who hold a very Atlanticist, pro-Israeli line. But the rebellion goes further. Dozens of diplomats are worried about the Group’s unqualified support for Israel. They fear a profound impact on France’s image and security in the years to come, and are calling for an immediate ceasefire.”

An article by Georges Malbrunot in Le Figaro of Nov. 13, reports on the joint memo from several French ambassadors to the Middle East, who “regret Paris’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s an unprecedented gesture in the recent history of French diplomacy in the Arab world.”

According to a diplomat quoted by Malbrunot, the ambassadors “assert that our position in favor of Israel at the start of the crisis is misunderstood in the Middle East, and that it is at odds with our traditionally balanced position between Israelis and Palestinians”. Furthermore, they note France’s “poor image in the Arab world”.

Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has also been active, giving many interviews and very strongly calling for France to condemn Netanyahu’s campaign of revenge and rather seek justice.

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