“It is insane to invite a terrorist to come and talk about the conflict by presenting him as a defender of human rights,” said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in France.
The mayor of the city of Lyon, France, has decided to cancel a conference scheduled to take place in his city in the presence of a French-Palestinian Salah Hamouri, who was expelled from Israel in December and served time in prison for terrorist activities.
The mayor said he took the decision to “ensure harmony” in his city in the face of “very strong tensions” caused by this event.
“I do so in my role as mayor who must ensure civil peace and harmony in the city,” Grégory Doucet, who is from the ecologist party EELV, told the press, adding that he regretted not being able to “serenely guarantee freedom of expression.44
The conference entitled “Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, views on Palestine”, was scheduled for Wednesday at the City Hall. But the presence of Salah Hamouri, , had caused outrage among many personalities.
On Sunday, one of the mayor’s deputies, Florence Delaunay, had to leave hurriedly a ceremony marking the liberation of the Auschwitz camp after being booed by the audience.
On Friday, the chief rabbi of Lyon had announced that he was withdrawing from an interfaith group created by the city hall, to protest against the invitation of Salah Hamouri. “I cannot give my moral support to people who, instead of promoting peace in the city, will instead stir up community tensions,” Daniel Dahan said in a statement.
“It is insane to invite a terrorist to come and talk about the conflict by presenting him as a defender of human rights,” said Simon Seroussi, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in France.
‘’The Israeli embassy in France was deeply shocked by the organization of this roundtable. Not to invite a single Israeli representative to participate in this event is extremely problematic… Salah Hamouri is affiliated with the PFLP movement, a terrorist organization for France and Israel. The PFLP is responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks that have targeted civilians, not only in Israel but around the world.’’
Israel’s Interior Ministry in December announced that Hamouri, who is a field researcher for the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a group linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization, had been expulsed from the country.
He was imprisoned in Israel between 2005 and 2011 for participating in an assassination attempt on the former chief rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yossef, founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. He was then released in 2011 as part of a 1,027 prisoner exchange that led to the release of Gilad Shalit.
However, the press release from the Lyon town hall had presented Hamouri as a “French-Palestinian lawyer, human rights defender, former political prisoner”.