Majdi Rimawi, a Palestinian planner of the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001, has been granted honorary citizenship of the French town of Bezons near Paris.
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According to the municipality, 200 people gathered at a council meeting on February 13 to show “solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been without a state for 65 years and whose lands have been occupied by Israel.” A few days earlier, the municipality held a meeting on Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Bezons is a town of 28,000 people. Dominique Lesparre, a member of the French Communist Party, has been ints mayor since 2008. According to the newspaper Le Parisien, Bezons has signed a sister-city agreement with Qarawat Bani Zeid, a Palestinian village where Rimawi’s family lives.
In a speech at the event published in the media, Lesparre said genocide was being carried out in the Palestinian territories. “Majdi Rimawi participated in the intifada, the struggle against the State of Israel’s violence, in order to defend his land against occupation. For his defiance he has been jailed since 2002,” Lesparre said.
It's unclear how many Bezons officials know the reasons behind Rimawi’s trial and imprisonment for the assassination that took place during the second intifada. Pamphlets printed by the municipality read that “Majdi Rimawi has been imprisoned for over a decade by his Israeli jailers. His only crime is defending his city and homeland, and demanding adherence to international law and recognition of Palestine within the 1967 borders. For this he was sentenced to more than 80 years!”
Rimawi’s son and daughter took part in the ceremony, as did his wife, who according to the municipality has served as mayor of Qarawat Bani Zeid. Lesparre also said that granting the title to Rimawi was a “strong political move” and that “Majdi draws his strength from the Palestinian struggle and the solidarity demonstrations throughout the world."
Olivier Regis, a city council member from the center-right UMP party, protested the awarding of honorary citizenship. Regis told Le Parisien that the mayor had “turned the council meeting into a political event.”