Rethinking Israel’s attitude vis-à-vis the Embassy of France in “Palestine” (Jerusalem)

An open letter to President Shimon Peres – by Jonathan-Simon Sellem

Mr Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel,

A few weeks ago, the Consul General of France in Jerusalem (also known as the Ambassador of France in Palestine), Frederic Desagneaux, left the capital of Israel. After four years of loyal service at the Quai d’Orsay, his mission came to end. He has been replaced by Mr. Magro. Yet, let’s draw up an assessment, for the sake of Israel, of the presence of these consuls in Jerusalem.

Paris does not recognize Israel’s right to hold Jerusalem as its capital. This is a fact. Thus, France’s Embassy is located in Tel Aviv. And every time an Israeli official should meet with a French official, the ambassador is forced to travel to Jerusalem. But in Jerusalem, there is a Consulate, the consul is one of the few in the French diplomacy who has a dual status: consul and ambassador. We must say that for France, the Consulate in Jerusalem serves exclusively as a link with the Palestinian Authority. And no matter if the Consulate is located in the heart of the Jewish Jerusalem, West Jerusalem (I say this even though I don’t like to talk about a divided Jerusalem from East to West). The Consulate deals with the problems of the French who live in Jerusalem and the settlements, but the website of the Consulate is in French and Arabic. Exit Hebrew. Well, there is an Hebrew page: but almost totally empty and not up to date.

Summarize: Paris does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has installed its embassy of France in Israel in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, there is no Palestinian state and the Oslo agreements prohibit the Palestinians to declare Jerusalem as the capital of a country (that does not exist). But France already created its embassy in Palestine… In Jerusalem !

Mr Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel,

In the recent years, the Consulate of France in Jerusalem was the scene of scandals that shook the Franco-Israeli community, but have hardly shaken the Israeli diplomats and politicians. While the voice of France in the Middle East doesn’t count and its influence is close to zero, it is time for Israel to wake up even a little bit in front of the presence of hateful consular employees towards the Jewish state.

And only when a woman, Marion Castaing, head of social services in the Consulate in Jerusalem, hit in the face an Israeli soldier, Israel finally woke up. If only Israel had listened to his French!

Because the alert was given a long time ago…

Mr Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel,

I’ll pass the case of the Consulate’s driver who, a few weeks ago, was caught while he was returning from Jordan. In his car, Israeli customs officials found 152 kg of gold, checks to endorse of a value of 2 million dollars, and enough to feed a huge traffic of contraband cigarettes.

But how can we forget the time the Consul Frederic Desagneaux welcomed guests by claiming to dozens of guests: “Welcome to Jerusalem, the future capital of Palestine”?

How to forget the case of the Nazi salute made by students of the consular School of Jerusalem on the day of Yom Hashoah? How can we forget that the school’s director had emailed the following instructions to his teachers: “Do not feel obliged to respect the moment of silence when the Israeli siren rings through the country”? Please recall that this school is under the supervision of the Consul in person!

How can we forget the various affronts to Israelis and Israeli Jews during his presence here? Should we forget? Should we forget? No, certainly not. What we need is a strong Israeli diplomatic decision.

Mr Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel,

Israel must simply demand the expulsion of the Consulate of France to Ramallah, a city that will be delighted to welcome another French diplomatic representation (there is already a French cultural center in this city). The Consulate of France in Jerusalem should deal only with the problems of Franco-Israelis, whether Jewish or Arab. But Franco- Israelis only. The Consul in our capital should cease to promote links with the Palestinians exclusively. He must cease to betray our generosity and to support terrorists. I recall the triumphal welcome he reserved to Salah Hamouri, a Franco-Palestinian released from Israeli prisons. He was sentenced for attempted attack against Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Shas. This active member of the PFLP yet received all the honors of the Republic through the Consul.

No, Israel’s vocation is not to welcome all the anti-Israeli diplomats that France is willing to send us.

Before JSSNews, an Israeli magazine in French, discovered and published online a video showing Marion Castaing violently hitting the soldier, in which we can also see the diplomat throwing herself at the ground – despite the fact she said that the soldiers have thrown her – the Consulate of France was already preparing to lecture Israel. The Consul was preparing to demand a public apology. How can we accept that, knowing that this woman, an extremist Christian activist who fights against abortion in France, had violated the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court who asked for the dismantling of the illegal Bedouin settlement? This is an interference in the affairs of our state, isn’t it?

Mr. President Shimon Peres,

in the coming weeks, in addition to welcoming the French President Francois Hollande on an official visit, you’ll also receive the credentials of the new Ambassador of France in Tel-Avov, as well as the exequatur of the new Consul General in Jerusalem. Mr. President, keep in mind that before he left our capital, the former Consul of France in Jerusalem received an official award from Abu Mazen, for “services to Palestine”. Mr. President, perhaps it’s not customary, but maybe you should seriously consider to decline the letter from the Consul Mr. Magro.

The Consul Magro is certainly a nice guy, but Israël should not accept the presence of an Ambassador for Palestine in the heart of our capital !

And at a time when the French President dared to shake hands with our worst enemy in New York, Hassan Rohani, remember the time when you, Mr President, were fighting for the survival of Israel and for the conquest of Jerusalem. You can’t wipe out your past, or our nation’s, with a simple signature on an exaquatur document.

About the Author
Jonathan-Simon Sellem was elected (in 2014) Representative of the French people living in Israel and is currently journalist. Former newscaster who made alyah in 2006 as war reporter during the 2nd Lebanon War, he is now the editor-in-chief of the main Israeli-French speaking media outlet, JSSNews.