France says no 'equivalence' between Israel and Hamas

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French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne on Tuesday urged people not to draw an "equivalence" between the International Criminal Court prosecutor's arrest warrant requests for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

"These simultaneous requests for arrest warrants should not create an equivalence between Hamas and Israel," Sejourne told lawmakers in parliament.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said Monday that he requested arrest warrants for top Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohamed Deif, as well as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, on suspicions of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Where he said the Palestinian militant chiefs could be culpable of "extermination", "rape and other acts of sexual violence" and "taking hostages as a war crime", he accused the Israelis of "starvation", "wilful killing", and "extermination and/or murder".

Sejourne insisted that Hamas was "a terrorist group that celebrated the October 7 attacks" that killed 1,170 Israeli civilians according to an AFP tally based on official tolls.

Israel, meanwhile, is "a democratic state that must respect international law in the conduct of a war that it did not itself start", Sejourne said.

Israel's retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,562 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

"France recognises the independence of the ICC, it's a principle," Sejourne said.

"It will now be up to the judges at the ICC to decide on whether these warrants will be granted, they will do it in an independent way," he added.

Insisting on France's "solidarity towards both Israelis and Palestinians", Sejourne said Paris "is committed to finding a political solution" to the conflict.