French President Emmanuel Macron and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach hold a press conference. GETTY IMAGES

Emmanuel Macron on Monday justified the difference in treatment at the Olympic Games between Russia, which has been excluded as a nation because it decided to wage a "war of aggression" in Ukraine, and Israel, whose flag will be present because it has not been an "aggressor".

Between Russia and Israel, there is a "very different situation," President Emmanuel Macron replied on BFMTV-RMC to the LFI deputies and ecologists who, at the end of February, asked the IOC in vain "to apply to Israel, during the next Olympic Games, the same sanctions as those applied to Russia and Belarus."

"Israel was the victim of a terrorist attack (...) We can disagree with Israel on how to react and protect ourselves, but we cannot say that Israel is an attacker, so the distinction is very clear," he said.

"That is why the Israeli flag will be there. The athletes will be there and I also hope that they will be vectors of peace because they will have to compete with many actors in the region," the French president added.

The IOC is doing its utmost to stay out of the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, hiding behind its own application of the "two-state solution", as the Israeli and Palestinian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have coexisted since 1995, a legacy of the Oslo peace process.

Moreover, the IOC's decision to ban Russia as a state but allow Russian athletes to take part under a neutral flag was "proportionate and fair" because Moscow had "chosen a war of aggression that has been going on for more than two years", Macron added.

For the first time, the president commented on Iran's "unprecedented" attack on Israel on Saturday night. He called for "everything possible to avoid an escalation". On the one hand, he hopes to "convice Israel" not to escalate the situation, while "isolating" Iran.