The mayor of a city council in a suburb of Paris was barred from entering Israel on Monday due to his pro-Palestinian stance and alleged support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state.
Gennevilliers Mayor Patrice Leclerc, who belongs to the Communist Party of France, was turned away as he tried to cross the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan to Israel.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri refused entry to Israel for Leclerc and his wife, citing his support for BDS and recognition of Palestinian statehood and for honoring Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist and member of the PLO who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for the murder of Israeli victims of terrorist attacks he helped plan.
Leclerc posted on Facebook that he was kept at the crossing for six hours and interviewed six times before finally being refused entry. He said that both the French embassy in Tel Aviv and the consulate in Jerusalem had tried unsuccessfully to intervene on his behalf.
“This situation marks a hardening of the state of Israel’s position regarding those who act for the right of the Palestinians to have a free and independent state,” he wrote.
He called on French President Emmanuel Macron to take a stand against Israel for its action, saying now was the time for France to recognize a state of Palestine.
The Interior Ministry said that the mayor had known that he would not be permitted to enter, but chose not to deal with it before he arrived. In addition, according to the ministry, Leclerc changed his explanation as to the reason for his visit to Israel, which added to the decision to bar him, Channel 10 reported.
“We will not allow anyone who acts against Israel to enter Israel in order to act and incite against the state,” Deri said.
Leclerc had also been scheduled to visit Israel in November as part of a 20-member French delegation to Israel and the West Bank, but he withdrew after being denied entry on that occasion also.
The group was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on November 19-23 and had announced that its primary purpose was to visit Barghouti and other Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, and offer them support.
Leclerc’s office recognized the state of Palestine on January 21, but nullified the policy on February 14, under pressure from local government.
The recognition move was symbolic and has no bearing on French foreign policy.
Last week, Deri announced that he would bar Dublin’s first lord mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, from entering Israel. Mac Donncha, a member of the leftists Sinn Féin party, was planning to attend a conference on the status of Jerusalem in Ramallah, at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.
I can confirm I am in Ramallah and preparing for tomorrow's conference. https://t.co/F2Y5Q8IzGJ
— Lord Mayor of Dublin (@LordMayorDublin) April 10, 2018
But just minutes after Deri made his threat, Mac Donncha tweeted that he was actually already in Ramallah, telling the Haaretz daily that he had come in untroubled via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
Haaretz quoted an Interior Ministry spokesperson as saying that border control officials had failed to stop him, because the order had apparently spelled his name wrong.