18 Jun 2024, 19:59

Jerusalem official takes on French consulate after Israel arms show ban



ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-CONFLICT-FRANCE-DIPLOMACY  JERUSALEM, June 18, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Jerusalem's deputy mayor, an ultranationalist Israeli politician, has asked for rubbish not to be collected from the French consulate after Paris barred Israeli firms from an arms show.

Organisers of the Eurosatory trade show just outside Paris said last month French authorities had banned Israeli firms, with the French defence ministry attributing the decision to Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip's Rafah city.

Deputy Mayor Arieh King posted on social media platform X a letter he had addressed to the municipal sanitation department, asking "to instruct Jerusalem municipal maintenance workers to immediately cease garbage removal service from the French consulate building".

A City Hall statement said King's request would not be implemented.

In his letter, he denounced "traitorous and anti-Israeli conduct" by French President Emmanuel Macron, who King said aimed "to harm the State of Israel and Israeli industry", in an apparent reference to the French expo move.

"As the City Hall of Israel's capital, we must not stand idly by and accept the French president's decision to stand alongside the Hamas terrorist organisation," King wrote.

France has an embassy in the coastal city of Tel Aviv and a consulate in Jerusalem which also serves Palestinians in the city's Israel-annexed east as well as the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent state, while Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital.

The Jerusalem City Hall told AFP in a statement that garbage collection would continue at the French consulate.

"The Jerusalem municipality removes trash from all parts of the city on a professional basis and provides the best service to all its residents," it said.

A municipal official, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to discuss the matter with the press, told AFP King has no authority to decide on such a move.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu has told French media it was inappropriate to host Israeli weapons manufacturers and defence firms at the expo given Macron's calls for an end to the fighting in Rafah, which went unheeded.

Israel, which has vowed to crush Hamas militants in Gaza following the group's October 7 attack, sent ground troops into the far-southern city in early May despite widespread concern for Palestinian civilians sheltering there.

Seventy-four Israeli firms were set to take part in the Eurosatory event which opened on Monday. Organisers said about 10 of them were planning to exhibit weapons.

"By decision of the government authorities, there will be no stand for the Israeli defence industry at the Eurosatory 2024 fair," Coges Events had said in a statement confirming the ban.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant last week condemned "hostile policies against Israel" by France, in remarks rejected by other senior officials.