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Relations between France and Israel tense after cancellation of culture event

Israeli security forces canceled a cultural event at the French Institute in Jerusalem, in which Palestinian women were to take part. The Quai d'Orsay denounced their involvement as a "serious and inadmissible" act.

Published: March 24, 2019, 5:51 am

    Jerusalem

    Relations between France and Israel have become tense. The Israeli chargé d’affaires in Paris was summoned by the French authorities, the Quai d’Orsay said, to discuss the cancellation by the Israeli security forces of an event to be held at the Institute of Jerusalem, and in which Palestinian women were to participate, according to French political weekly Le Point.

    “Such acts represent a serious and unacceptable attack on the functioning of our cultural network in Jerusalem. The Israeli chargé d’affaires in Paris was summoned to the Quai d’Orsay on this subject today to make the necessary adjustments,” the ministry said in a statement. “France intends to maintain and develop the deep and long-standing relations it has with Palestinian civil society,” it reads.

    The event was organised in conjunction with a women’s association from Jerusalem – an organisation that Israel accuses of being “sponsored or financed by the Palestinian Authority [and] without authorisation”.

    According to the association, its director and a volunteer were arrested by the police and released shortly thereafter. “It was a Mother’s Day event” celebrated every year on March 21 in a part of the Arab world, where the women of Jerusalem sell handicrafts, explained one of them. Mainly women participate in the festivities.

    US news outlet McClatchy meanwhile reported that President Donald Trump’s tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and Israeli officials.

    US diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be the main issue in coming meetings between Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, but they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this week.

    Trump’s announcement coincided with fresh allegations of Netnayahu’s corruption. Israeli state prosecutors are reportedly considering opening yet another criminal graft investigation against the their Prime Minister, citing “dramatic” new information.

    US administration officials said that National Security Advisor John Bolton was instrumental to the decision regarding the Golan Heights.

    Trump however does not have the legal authority to give Israel sovereignty over anything. Several UN resolutions have determined (UNSCR242) and reconfirmed (UNSCR497) that the Golan Heights are Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel.

    The European Union, Russia and others rejected Trump’s move saying it ignores international law.

    Trump’s recognition will feature in law suites filed against Genie Energy Ltd, an oil company in Newark New Jersey that wants to drill for oil on the Golan Heights. The oil company’s board of advisors includes Dick Cheney and former CIA head and chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, James Woolsey.

    Under international law, it is illegal to draw natural resources from an occupied territory. But Trump’s announcement will give the owners and board members of Genie Energy some legal cover in US and Israeli courts.

    In Amsterdam, protesters carrying Palestinian flags turned their backs on the Dutch chief rabbi during his eulogy at a vigil for Muslims killed in New Zealand.

    The incident happened as Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs was discussing the meaning of a minute of silence at the gathering at the Dam Square World War II memorial monument. Thousands of people, mainly Muslims, gathered at the square to commemorate the 49 people slain recently at two mosques in Christchurch.

    When Jacobs, the chief rabbi of the Inter-Provincial Chief Rabbinate of the Netherlands, got up to speak, several participants carrying Palestinian flags demonstratively turned their backs on the rabbi in what many Dutch Jews on Twitter called a display of anti-Semitism.

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