France reprimands Israeli envoy after shut down of East Jerusalem event

Paris says police action at French Institute cultural center was a ‘serious and unacceptable attack,’ while Jerusalem insists event was sponsored by PA and thus illegitimate

The French Institute in East Jerusalem (Facebook photo)
The French Institute in East Jerusalem (Facebook photo)

France’s foreign ministry on Friday summoned Israel’s chargé d’affaires in Paris for a reprimand a day after Israeli authorities shut down a planned cultural event at a site belonging to the French Institute in East Jerusalem.

Israeli officials had alleged the event was to involve an association supported by the Palestinian Authority. Israel has banned the PA from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem, which it considers territory under its jurisdiction.

The French ministry said that “such acts represent a serious and unacceptable attack on the functioning of our cultural network in Jerusalem.” It vowed to “maintain and develop the close and long-standing relations it has with Palestinian civil society.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said deputy ambassador in France Marc Attali registered Israel’s protest over the institute hosting an event sponsored by the PA.

“The Israeli envoy made clear that we will not accept PA events in Jerusalem and that we expect our friends to honor the rules as well,” it said.

The incident occurred Thursday at the Institut Français Chateaubriand center in East Jerusalem, when in a rare move Israeli police entered the center and ordered the event canceled.

One of the women who was to participate told AFP “it was an event related to Mother’s Day” to sell crafts made by women from Jerusalem. She said similar events occur on a near-monthly basis.

The French consulate said it could not confirm if the association was indeed financed by the PA, but Palestinians who were to participate in the event said the allegation was false.

After police arrived, France’s consul general immediately protested against the action at an institute “belonging to our diplomatic and cultural network,” a French diplomatic source said.

The consul called on police “to leave the location,” and security forces left in the late morning, the source said, adding that the consulate took the incident “seriously.”

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six Day War of 1967 and later extended sovereignty over it in a move never recognized by the international community.

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

AFP contributed to this report.

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