Contrary to reports in the Israeli media, including The Times of Israel, the French Consulate in Jerusalem did not host a Palestinian terrorist who planned to kill a prominent Israeli rabbi.
On Monday, Maariv reported that Salah Hamouri — who was convicted of plotting to kill Ovadia Yosef, a former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel and the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party — was a guest of honor at an event hosted by the French consulate in Jerusalem.
According to the paper, Hamouri was invited to an event at the consulate building to celebrate the signing of terms of cooperation between the Île-de-France and the Jerusalem branch of the Palestinian Authority. The agreement was to focus on the areas of vocational training, health, social, cultural and institutional support. The Île-de-France is one of the administrative regions of France and is composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area.
But in fact, the French embassy said Hamouri only attended the signature of the cooperation agreement, which took place in the Palestinian town of Al-Ramm, the seat of the Jerusalem Governorate. After the signing of the Olso Accords, the West Bank was divided into 11 provinces, called governorates. Hamouri was invited by Adnan Husseini, who heads the Jerusalem Governorate, according to the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.
An Israeli-Arab and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamouri was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to prison for his part in a plot to attack Yosef.
Hamouri, who has French nationality through his mother, was released from prison after seven years as part of last year’s prisoner exchange for the release from Gaza of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Days after his release at the end of 2011, Ynet reported that Hamouri was unrepentant and had described Yosef as a “symbol of racism and bigotry in Israel.”
Hamouri is currently suing news outlet Israel National News for NIS 1 million in a claim that it slandered him by when it supposedly quoted a Reuters news report that had him saying “Rabbi Ovadia Yosef deserves to die.” Hamouri denies he said any such thing and is suing INN for “damaging his good name,” Maariv said. Last week INN’s management met with Hamouri under legal advisement.
Note: This piece was updated and corrected on November 28. It originally stated that the French Consulate did host Hamouri.