Paris suburb rescinds symbolic recognition of ‘Palestine’

Communist mayor, who hoped other municipalities would follow suite, caves to pressure from President Macron’s party

Patrice Leclerc, mayor of the Parisian suburb of Gennevilliers. (YouTube screenshot)
Patrice Leclerc, mayor of the Parisian suburb of Gennevilliers. (YouTube screenshot)

A month after its controversial “recognition” of “the state of Palestine,” the Parisian suburb of Gennevilliers has rescinded its gesture under pressure from local government.

The office of Mayor Patrice Leclerc, a Communist Party of France politician who, on January 21 made the so-called recognition in a document he then sent to other mayors, nullified the policy paper on February 14, the National Bureau Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, on Thursday said in a statement.

Leclerc’s recognition move was symbolic and has no bearing on French foreign policy. He nullified it following intervention by Pierre Soubelet, a politician for the France on the March! Party of President Emmanuel Macron. Soubelet, a former army general, heads the Hauts-de-Seine region, which includes Gennevilliers.

The mayor of the suburb of Bezons, Dominique Lesparre, a member of the communist party as well, also signed a declaration saying his municipality recognizes a Palestinian state. BMVCA has petitioned the Val d’Oise region to use its power to nullify the policy of the city council of Bezons.

In a letter to other mayors, Leclerc explained the recognition of what he called Palestine was designed to force a change in the national government’s position on the issue, which is that recognition of a Palestinian state should not precede the signing of an permanent agreement on the creation of such an entity between representatives of the Palestinian people and Israel.

“France by the actions of its former foreign minister Laurent Fabius spoke out at the end of 2016 about the possibility of recognizing Palestine in case the peace process hits a dead end. But nothing was done,” Leclerc wrote in the statement. “President Emmanuel Macron refuses to have France follow through but if thousands of localities in France issue this official order this taking up of positions by municipalities will lead to recognition.”

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