Marseille mayor signs letter calling Tel Aviv ‘ex-Palestine’
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Marseille mayor signs letter calling Tel Aviv ‘ex-Palestine’

French Jewish group complains about letter to resident born in Israeli city; municipality says description carried over from official records

Marseille's mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin chairs a town council, on January 27, 2020 at Marseille city hall. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)
Marseille's mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin chairs a town council, on January 27, 2020 at Marseille city hall. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)

PARIS, France (JTA) — The French municipality of Marseille has described Tel Aviv as part of “former Palestine” in an official letter to a resident who was born in the Israeli city.

Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin signed the letter, which was sent on February 5, informing the resident that he was registered on the city’s electoral list. His place of birth was listed as “Tel Aviv – Ex-Palestine.”

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, contacted city authorities last week asking for a correction. The municipality told BNVCA that the description was carried over from records belonging to either the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies or the French Foreign Ministry, BNVCA said in a statement.

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 in what then was part of the Ottoman Empire. Following World War I, Tel Aviv was among the Jewish, and Arab, settlements that became part of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine overseen by the United Kingdom.

Illustrative view of Tel Aviv at night, August 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In 1947, Tel Aviv was part of the would-be Jewish state that the United Nations, successor to the League of Nations, set aside in its partition plan for the mandate’s territory. The Jewish establishment led by David Ben-Gurion accepted the partition, but the leaders of the plan’s would-be Arab state rejected it and launched a war against Jewish residents. In 1948, that escalated into a military conflict between the newly established State of Israel and six foreign Arab armies, as well as local Arab militias.

Israel won and took over large swaths of land originally intended for the Arab state.

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