French mayor defends honor for Ze'evi killer

Lesparre says honoring killer part of "solidarity and cooperation with the Palestinian people"; accuses critics of "hatred."

Rehavam Zeevi 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Rehavam Zeevi 370
(photo credit: reuters)
A French mayor whose municipality recently honored the Palestinian murderer of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi defended the move and accused critics of “hatred” and “complicity in occupation.”
Mayor Dominique Lesparre of the Paris suburb of Bezons said in a statement released on Wednesday that his municipality’s vote last month to name Majdi Al-Rimawi an honorary resident was part of a “tradition of peace, solidarity and cooperation with the Palestinian people.”
An Israeli court convicted Rimawi, a member of the terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, for the murder of Tourism Minister Ze’evi in Jerusalem in 2001, along with three other shooters.
The decision to honor Rimawi, who is jailed in Israel, was made known in the city’s official newsletter in an article which said his only crime was to strive toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. The article did not mention the murder.
It triggered strong-worded condemnations from the Israeli government, the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, and the European Jewish Congress, whose president Moshe Kantor called the move “outrageous and horrific.”
Lesparre called these reactions “hateful,” adding: “It strengthens our resolve to defend the noble and just Palestinian cause.”
“It does not surprise us that this act of solidarity invokes hostile reactions by some of the participants of the occupation of Palestinian territories,” Lesparre said. "Any criticism of Israeli leaders or reference to the Palestinians' suffering is systematically condemned as anti-Semitic."