French party leaders have a mixed reaction to the Hamas attack on Israel

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (C), French Education and Youth Minister Gabriel Attal (L) and Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia (3rd R) visit a Jewish school in Sarcelles on October 11, 2023, after recent Hamas attacks in Israel. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin held „a security meeting on October 8, 2023 morning with all the services of the Ministry of the Interior, to protect our Jewish compatriots against any threat”, wrote the minister on X (formerly Twitter). (Photo by Raphael Lafargue / POOL / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron summoned party heads for closed-door talks amid a political rift over the Middle East in order to flesh out divisions raised by the violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Ahead of the meeting between French party heads, President Macron was in Hamburg for two days of Franco-German meetings with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, during which both leaders voiced their support to the Israeli government.

However, not every political figure had the same assessment of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist organisation’s October 7 attack on the State of Israel. The far-left France Unbowed party has refused to denounce the Hamas group as terrorists, even though eleven French nationals were killed in Saturday’s violence and a further 18 people remain missing, including several children.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of France’s biggest left-wing party, France Unbowed, came under fire from all sides for his party’s stance. Their refusal to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organisation created a major rift on the left.

Melenchon openly accused the French Jewish representative body CRIF of trying to silence calls for peace in the Middle East by organising an Israel solidarity march in Paris. France Unbowed was the only major party to boycott the march.

The talks between party chiefs and the presidents of the two houses of parliament at the Elysée came ahead of a televised speech Thursday night in which Macron is to address the „terrorist acts committed in Israel”.

The events in the Middle East have provoked strong emotion in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities. Past wars in Gaza have triggered mass protests in France, mainly in solidarity with Palestinians. Police have arrested more than 20 people in relation to more than a hundred „antisemitic acts” reported since Saturday’s attack by Hamas.