French Consul 'too vague' on issue of legitimizing Arab terrorism - NGO

The failure of the French Consul-General to condemn demands for Palestinian prisoners to be released 'endangers lives,' Marcus claimed.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat gestures as he speaks to the media in Ramallah, July 1, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat gestures as he speaks to the media in Ramallah, July 1, 2019
Failure by the French Consul to condemn Palestinian calls for terrorists to be released from jail endangers Israeli lives by legitimizing terror as a weapon in the Israeli-Arab conflict, an NGO told The Jerusalem Post.
French Consul-General, René Troccaz, recently met with PLO Executive Committee Secretary and Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, where, according to the official PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Troccaz is said to have agreed with all of the PA's demands for peace, including a return to the 1967 borderlines, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, including terrorists responsible for deadly terror attacks.
According to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch, on July 3 the newspaper reported: “During a meeting between Erekat and French Consul General René Troccaz, … the French consul general emphasized his country’s absolute rejection of annexation, and demanded to cancel it and begin a credible peace process on the basis of international law, the international bodies, and the defined agreements and sources of authority in such a way that will guarantee the end of the occupation, the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine whose capital is East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders, the resolution of the permanent status issues – foremost among them the issue of the refugees based on [UN] Resolution 194, and the release of the prisoners.”
Resolution 194 guarantees right of return for Arabs who left Israel during Israel's War of Independence, and their descendants, now amounting to some 5.5 million people, and stipulates that compensation must be paid to those who choose not to return.
A spokesman from the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem told the Post in an email: "These reports are inaccurate. The French position is public and well known. We will not further comment on this official's bilateral talks."
The PLO's demand to release prisoners would, if met, see the freeing of terrorists such as Abdullah Barghouti, a leading commander in Hamas' armed wing currently serving time for the murder of 67 Israelis in numerous terror attacks, Ibrahim Hamed, a Hamas military commander in the West Bank who ordered suicide bombing attacks during the Second Intifada and is currently serving 45 life sentences, and Hassan Salame, the chief of operations for Black September, the organization responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre and other terror attacks.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, told the Post that he was "very disappointed" by the Consul's "vague" statement, adding: "If he really didn’t say any of the shocking things that Saeb Erekat and the PA attributed to him, I would expect him to be infuriated and condemn Erekat for lying about him. Moreover, saying merely that the French position “well known” enables the French Consul to avoid saying what he actually told Erekat about Palestinian terrorist prisoners."
Moreover, on the subject of the Palestinian prisoners in particular, Marcus called upon the French Consul to make a bold statement condemning calls for their release, arguing that failing to do so endangers Israeli lives as it allows the PA to promote the idea that terrorism is legitimate.
"The PA message to its people that killing Israeli men, women and children is legitimate under international law is the foundation upon which the PA promotes terror and demands that terrorist prisoners be freed," Marcus told the Post.
"The French Consul letting this pass with a vague denial enables the PA to continue to promote the myth among its population that the international community recognizes their right to kill Israelis. In the interest of protecting lives he should have been explicit: France believes that Palestinian terrorists like all terrorists must remain in prison."
France has been vocal in its opposition to Israel's plans to unilaterally annex up to a third of the West Bank, warning repeatedly that annexation would not be "without consequences."
On July 1, France's foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing: “Annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the perimeters, would seriously throw into question the parameters to resolve the conflict.
“An annexation decision could not be left without consequences, and we are examining different options at a national level and also in coordination with our main European partners.”
Last week, the French President Emmanuel Macron asked Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to drop the annexation plans. During a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron "emphasized that such a move would contravene international law and jeopardize the possibility of a two-state solution as the basis of a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," the French president's office said in a statement.
According to France's Foreign Office website, the country's official position on the Arab-Israeli conflict is that of support for a two state solution, with an independent Palestinian State existing "in peace and security alongside Israel."
The website explains: "The two-State solution is the only solution capable of addressing the legitimate aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians to security, independence, recognition and dignity. With this in mind, France and its European partners have drawn up the parameters that need to guide a resolution of the conflict:
- "borders based on the 1967 Lines, with agreed equivalent land swaps;
- "security arrangements preserving the sovereignty of the Palestinian State and guaranteeing the security of Israel;
- "a fair, equitable and negotiated solution to the refugee problem;
- "an arrangement making Jerusalem the capital of both States."
The website further states: "France supports the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, who defend the camp of peace."
It continues: "France is an active contributor to Palestine’s economic development and the consolidation of the institutions of the future Palestinian State. It devotes considerable sums (€434 million for the period 2008-2015, and nearly €40 million in 2016) to aid for Palestine, about a third of which is destined for Gaza. Palestine remains the leading beneficiary of French budgetary assistance."