By Noemie Olive and Michel Rose
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron proposed on Tuesday that an international coalition fighting against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria be widened to include the fight against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.
Macron gave no detail on how the U.S.-led coalition of dozens of countries, of which Israel is not a member, could be involved.
Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Macron stressed that France and Israel shared terrorism as their “common enemy”.
“France is ready for the international coalition against Daesh in which we are taking part for operations in Iraq and Syria to also fight against Hamas,” he told reporters, referring to Islamic State.
Macron, who warned against the risks of a regional conflict, also said the fight against Hamas “must be without mercy but not without rules”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not directly comment on Macron’s proposal but said the fight was a battle between the “axis of evil” and “the free world”.
“This battle is not merely our own… it’s everybody’s battle,” he said.
The U.S-led coalition fighting Islamic State was formed in September 2014.
Macron’s office said the idea was to draw inspiration from the coalition and that France was available to discuss with Israel and partners what could be relevant against Hamas.
“The international coalition against Daesh does not limit itself to operations on the ground, but is also involved in the training of Iraqi forces, the sharing of information between partners, and the fight against terrorism funding,” it said.
Thirty French citizens were killed by Hamas militants in their attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which more than 200 people were seized and 1,400 people killed. The Palestinian health ministry says Israeli air strikes on Gaza have killed over 5,000 people since then.
The French president, who met families of French victims at Tel Aviv airport, said freeing nine French hostages was a priority for France.
He was due to meet regional leaders in Jordan’s capital Amman on Tuesday. Mahmoud Abbas’ office said Macron would also meet the Palestinian leader in Ramallah, in the West Bank.
Macron’s visit comes after EU foreign ministers on Monday struggled to agree on a call for a “humanitarian pause” in the war.
(Additional reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Michael Georgy; Writing by Michel Rose and Ingrid Melander in Paris; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Mike Harrison, Robert Birsel and Alison Williams)