French parliament rejects resolution labeling Israel as “apartheid”

Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation, which honors those deported to Nazi concentration camps, in Paris. Photo by Menachem Wecker.

(JNS) — After a group of far-left members of France’s National Assembly put forward a measure labeling Israel an “apartheid state,” the lower house of Parliament rejected it by a margin of 199 to 71.

“We can only reject the use of the term apartheid to describe the situation in Israel,” Laurence Boone, French secretary of state for European affairs, tweeted. “This term carries a heavy load, attached to terrible suffering and bruised memories.”

“We commend France’s National Assembly for voting overwhelmingly to reject a resolution that would have falsely applied the ‘apartheid’ label to Israel,” wrote the American Jewish Committee. “France remains a close friend and vital partner of the Jewish state, a pillar of the Israel-Europe relationship.”

And the European Jewish Congress expressed “deepest gratitude” to the assembly members, “who voted against the false and damaging label of apartheid being attached to Israel and had the courage to denounce its anti-Zionist nature,” and added, “Today, France sent a powerful message of solidarity with Israel and in favor of fairness.”

Arguing for the resolution, Jean-Paul Lecoq, of the Communist Party, said that “the settlement policy is contrary to international legality” and “legally comes under a situation of apartheid.” He called the Israeli government “an institutionalized regime” that is “aimed at the oppression of one group over another,” and called for France to recognize “the state of Palestine.”

Jérôme Guedj, of the Socialist Party, rejected Lecoq’s invocation of “apartheid,” calling it an effort to “racialize and essentialize” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Aurore Bergé, president of the Renaissance party, called the measure “defamation,” declaring, “France is the friend of Israel.”