The French National Assembly voted down a resolution stating that Israel instituted an apartheid regime, with 199 opposed and 71 in favor on Thursday.
Dep. Jean-Paul Lecoq of the French Communist Party, which is part of the Democratic and Republican Left parliamentary group, proposed the resolution to “reaffirm the need for a two-state solution and condemn the State of Israel's institutionalization of an apartheid regime as a result of its colonial policy.”
French Secretary of State for Europe Laurence Boone said in his speech opposing the resolution that "France is a friend of Israel. France is unfailingly committed to Israel's security."
"It is also this...deep friendship, based on an attachment to common values, which allows France to maintain a frank dialogue with our Israeli friends and to say things clearly," Boone said. "To say things clearly is to name them well. In this regard, we can only reject the use of the term apartheid."
Boone added that France rejects terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and seeks security for Israelis and Palestinians.
"Escalating rhetoric does not help," he stated.
Boone also quoted French President Emmanuel Macron's past comments that antisemitism is often behind anti-Zionism.
Meyer Habib, the representative of French expats in the Mediterranean region, including Israel, spoke in the name of his party, Les Republicains, in opposition to the motion.
❌ "Réaffirmer la nécessité d'une solution à deux États et condamner l'institutionnalisation par l'État d'Israël d'un régime d'apartheid consécutif à sa politique coloniale"️ L'Assemblée nationale a rejeté la proposition de résolution. https://t.co/TLdXCz1dqk#DirectAN pic.twitter.com/AoLBP9OX39— Assemblée nationale (@AssembleeNat) May 4, 2023
“To blame the State of Israel, the only democratic state in the region, of apartheid is to make cynical use of history,” he said. “The fact that we are voting on this proposal is in of itself shameful to the republic, to the French parliament, to the Left.”
"Biggest fake news of the 21st century"
Habib called the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state “the biggest fake news of the 21st century” and “the fuel that drives all of the antisemites in the world.”
The legislator accused the Communist Party of being “blinded by hatred.”
“Not one of you condemned recent terrorist attacks in which three sets of Israeli brothers and sisters were murdered, including a six- and an eight-year-old. Children were murdered because they were Jewish, by barbarians,” he said.
“There is apartheid in [the Middle East], but it is in the Palestinian territories. A Jew cannot set foot there without endangering his life. Corruption and oppression rule there. They oppress homosexuals and do not respect women’s rights,” Habib stated.
Parler d’Apartheid en #Israël est une honte pour la République, une honte pour l’Assemblée, une honte pour la gaucheApartheid ?!Israël, c’est l’inverse de l’Apartheid !!!Un État de droit multiethnique, ouvert, démocratique qui perpétue la tradition d’accueil du Judaïsme. pic.twitter.com/ZLh6ULuCrP— Meyer Habib (@Meyer_Habib) May 4, 2023
The French Communist Party proposed a similar resolution last July, and it was voted down.
Habib, the first Israeli in the French National Assembly, was elected to his third term last year. The Eastern Mediterranean constituency includes French citizens in Israel, Greece, Italy and four other countries, with Israel having the most registered voters. He received over 80% of the votes in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habib have been friends for decades, and the French legislator has campaigned for the Likud leader.