After Mayor Barred, France Requests Israel Stop Denying Entry to Officials

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris, France, July 16, 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris, France, July 16, 2017.Credit: Michel Euler/AP

France requested that elected officials be permitted to enter Israel and the Palestinian territories, its Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, a day after Israel prevented the mayor of a Paris suburb from entering because of his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

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A spokesperson for the ministry said Patrice Leclerc's planned visit was part of attempts to supervise implementation of international programs in the Palestinian territories.

Israel's Interior Ministry said that Leclerc, who is mayor of Gennevilliers, was blocked from entering Israel through Jordan, while the French ministry said Tuesday that he was detained for several hours on the Israel-Jordan border.

Israeli officials said the decision to block him was taken after Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan deemed Patrice a BDS supporter.  

A statement by the Strategic Affairs Ministry noted that in November Patrice sought to visit Palestinian lawmaker Marwan Barghouti, currently serving time in an Israeli jail after being found guilty of terror-related murder charges.

“The decision not to let him into the country was made for a series of reasons in connection to his activity in the BDS movement and his promotion of boycotts against Israel,” the statement said.

In January 2016, the ministry said, Leclerc was among the first signatories to a petition submitted to then-French President Francois Hollande, calling for a boycott of Israel. On his personal website there is a post for a pro-Palestinian event that took place in his city, which includes a quote from Barghouti. The ministry added that he was the sponsor of an event in the city in 2011 that promoted the BDS movement. 

"We will not allow those who act against Israel to enter and incite against the state," Interior Minister Ayre Dery said in a statement.

Erdan also commented on the matter, saying, "those who work to boycott Israel will not enter – especially when they are officials."

In January, Leclerc announced that the Gennevilliers city council would recognize what it called "the state of Palestine." The French daily Le Figaro reported that the action was symbolic and had no bearing on French policy.

The municipality walked away from the move a month later, under pressure from the regional government.

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