(photo credit: ILAN SHOCHAT)
A delegation of residents of the northern French city of Lille arrived in Safed on Wednesday in a bid to melt the freeze in relations between the twinned cities.
Last month Lille’s city council enacted a “temporary freeze” in its relationship with Safed in an effort to pressure Jerusalem to end its conflict with the Palestinians.
Lille Mayor Martine Aubry, of the ruling Socialist Party, told the AFP news agency that the twinning agreement with Safed has not been canceled, but she did not say when the freeze would be lifted. Lille also is twinned with the Palestinian Authority city of Nablus.
Despite the official tensions, however, a delegation of officials, priests, and business leaders, along with members of the local Jewish community, arrived in the Galilean town Wednesday in order to strengthen local residents and explore investment opportunities, Maariv reported.
Over the past two decades, Safed, a center of Jewish mysticism, and Lille, the fourth largest city in France, have engaged in cultural exchanges and collaborated on promoting scientific medical research.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Roger Cukierman, president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), an umbrella organization representing French Jewry, asserted that Aubry’s move to break with Safed was “disgraceful” and done for “purely political reasons.”
“She has been subject to strong pressure from the pro-Palestinian side and her attitude is outrageous,” Cukierman said.
Last month Cukierman wrote on the CRIF website that the freeze “corresponds with hateful attitudes to the Israeli people.”