French official: J'lem to be capital of ‘Palestine’

After ‘Post’ query, French diplomats deny website remark.

February 6, 2012 02:19
2 minute read.
east Jerusalem

east Jerusalem 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

BERLIN – The head of the French Consulate in Jerusalem told French and Palestinian municipal officials late last month that Jerusalem will be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

“Welcome to Jerusalem, capital of the future State of Palestine,” Frédéric Desagneaux said at a conference in the city, the French-language online news outlet JSS wrote.

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A participant who contacted JSS was “shocked and surprised at the anti-Israel craze” of the attendees.

When asked by The Jerusalem Post during a telephone interview on Thursday about Desagneaux’s comment, Damien Cristofari, the French vice consul, stated that Desagneaux said “Jerusalem would be the capital of two states.”

Cristofari added that the consul- general’s position conforms to international and EU policy calling for Jerusalem to be a divided capital of Israel and a Palestinian state. The vice consul said that JSS “misquoted” Desagneaux.

Jonathan-Simon Sellem, the author of the JSS report, confirmed to the Post on Thursday the accuracy of his source, and said that Desagneaux called for Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine. The JSS source has an audio recording of the comment from Desagneaux.

Cristofari said the consulate was checking on a video recording of the January 23 conference to verify Desagneaux’s remarks. The top French diplomat in Jerusalem made his comments at a meeting on French-Palestinian cooperation in the fields of municipal construction, culture, democratic governance and water.

JSS wrote that there was a total of 200 representatives from the Palestinian and French sides present. The Palestinian Authority mayors of Hebron and Bethlehem attended the event.

JSS wrote that its source, who attended the event, said, “And after exchanging a few words with the assistant consul, I learned with astonishment that the consul also bears the title of ambassador of France in Palestine.

An ambassador of France in Palestine whose offices are located in west Jerusalem...”

François Penguilly, deputy consul, sent an e-mail statement to the Post on Thursday with a link to the website of the consulate. The website on Thursday, after Post inquiries, posted statements from Desagneaux on the occasion of the visit of French Cooperation Minister Henri de Raincourt on January 23. According to the post, Desagneaux said, “Jerusalem will become the capital of two states. This is the position of the international community.” He blasted Israel for “colonization, demolitions and expulsions” in the Palestinian territories.

When asked why the statement appeared on Thursday, Penguilly said there was a “technical problem” and the webmaster has corrected it.

When asked about the statements attributed to Desagneaux, Sonia Barbry, a spokeswoman for the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, told the Post on Thursday that “I was not there and we were not involved in that job. They [the consulate in Jerusalem] have autonomy.”

Desagneaux did not immediately return Post queries.

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