France's 'robust' ties with "Israel" keep Georges Abdallah in prison
The French government claims it respects human rights and condemns the Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories, yet it shakes hands with "Israel", turning a blind eye to all its crimes.
Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is elected President for a second term, winning 58% of the voter turnout.
Macron and his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had led the polls during the first round of the French presidential elections with a slight lead for Macron, who won 28.1-29.7%, around 5% more than Le Pen's 23.3-24.7%.
The other candidates, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Eric Zemmour, Valerie Pecresse, and Yannick Jadot received 20.1%, 7.2%, 5%, and 4.4%, respectively.
The President has garnered support from several opponents, mainly left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third place and called on his supporters and the French public to pivot away from the extremist.
"We know who we will never vote for... Not a single vote must go to Mrs. Le Pen," Melenchon said at his party headquarters in Paris, though he did not explicitly ask his supporters to back the incumbent President.
Another boost for the President also came from his other opponents. Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel, Socialist Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot of the Greens, and right-wing Republican candidate Valerie Pecresse said they would vote for him to prevent the far-right leader from coming to power.
Only fellow far-right candidate Eric Zemmour urged his supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen on April 24.
"I don't make a mistake over who my opponents are. I call on my voters to vote for Marine Le Pen," Zemmour told supporters following his elimination from the electoral race.
In parallel to the presidential election battle between Macron and Le Pen, the main question remains: What will the results hold for Palestine in light of the strong French-Israeli relations?
"Robust" relationship with "Israel"
France was one of the very first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Israeli occupation on May 11, 1949.
The French Foreign Ministry brags on its website that Paris has established a "robust" relationship with "Israel", "marked by constant commitment to its existence and security" and contribution to its military power.
But following the Six-Day War on Egypt in 1967, which saw "Israel" occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights, France adopted the United Nations Resolution 242 that calls on "Israel" to withdraw “from territories occupied."
Ever since, France’s official policy is a combination of supporting the Israeli occupation's so-called "right to exist and right to security," supporting the two-state solution, and allegedly condemning "Israel's" unlawful and illegal policy of settlement-building in occupied Palestinian territories.
The French Ministry of Foreign considers that "the annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the scope, would be a violation of international law, and particularly the prohibition of acquisition of territories by force."
According to the Ministry, the annexation of Palestinian territories "would aggravate tensions and seriously compromise the two-state solution, and would be contrary to the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Europeans and the wider the international community."
It also claimed that annexation "could not go unanswered or be without consequence for the EU’s relations with Israel."
Despite France's claims of respecting international law, during the May 2021 Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, French Interior Minister, Gerald Darminin, announced a ban on protests in solidarity with Palestine.
The Paris police also issued a decree deeming such demonstrations illegal, claiming that they could lead to “risky elements aimed at provoking violent confrontations with the police.”
In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed during a phone call on May 14 with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his “unwavering attachment” to "Israel’s" security and condemned the Palestinian Resistance.
According to the French Ministry of Foreign, "The bilateral relationship between France and Israel is also supported by the presence in Israel of a large French community (150,000 people), while France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community."
France is "Israel's" 12th largest supplier and 10th largest customer.
In 2017, approximately 100 French companies established themselves in "Israel", creating 5,530 jobs and generating an estimated €534 million in revenue.
According to Bank of France data, the stock of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in "Israel" reached €2.9 billion at the end of 2017, representing a 6% annual increase since 2012.
Scientific & technical cooperation
France is "Israel's" fifth-largest scientific and technological research partner. Academic collaboration, including the joint laboratory of INSERM Nice and the Technion-"Israel" Institute of Technology in Haifa, and the exchange of young researchers underpin this collaboration.
The French-Israeli High Council for Research and Scientific and Technological Cooperation has ensured this cooperation since 2003.
Secret military agreements
A research article called France and the Israeli occupation: talking the talk, but not walking the walk? revealed that "in the 1950s, France was the main supplier of military equipment to Israel through a number of secret deals that included aircraft, tanks, and ammunition."
"It also played a crucial role in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities through the provision of know-how, material and technology," the article added.
"In a secret agreement signed in 1956, France committed to helping Israel build a nuclear reactor and to providing uranium," the research article mentioned.
In the same context, US military historian Warner Farr had highlighted that “cooperation was so close that Israel worked with France on the pre-production design of early Mirage jet aircraft, designed to be capable of delivering nuclear bombs."
Farr revealed that "French experts secretly built the Israel reactor underground at Dimona, in the Negev (Naqab) desert… Hundreds of French engineers and technicians filled Beersheba (Beer Al-Sabe), the biggest town in the Negev (Naqab).”
Longest-serving political prisoner in Europe
When mentioning the strong ties linking France with the Israeli occupation, we can't but shed light on the just cause of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, former leader of the Marxist-Leninist Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF). Abdallah is accused of establishing the LARF.
The LARF fought to stop the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and targeted several senior US and Israeli figures involved in the war. All the LARF members were released except for Abdallah.
The Factions have also claimed responsibility for the operations in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Abdallah has been imprisoned in southwestern France since 1984, despite completing the minimum term of his sentence in 1999.
He was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for his alleged involvement in the 1982 killing of US military attaché Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yakov Barsimentov in Paris, as well as in an assassination attempt on Robert O. Homme, a US consul in Strasbourg.
The revolutionary never responded to the list of accusations and considered that the French judicial system is "despicably" taking the resistance action out of context.
It had been possible to release Abdallah in 1999, but French authorities denied his nine parole requests.
In November 2003, the entity that grants parole in the city of Pau - where Abdallah is detained - gave the green light to one of Abdallah’s release requests.
Why hasn't he been released yet?
However, then-French Minister of Justice Dominique Perben appealed the decision, describing the case as “extremely serious”, which kept Abdallah in prison, and his file was transferred to another court.
Abdallah’s May 2009 request for release on parole was rejected by a Paris appeals court that claimed the prisoner was “a resolute and pitiless militant” who might resume his “combat” again in Lebanon, citing a 2008 French law.
A Paris judge approved Abdallah's release on Thursday, January 10, 2013, and set the date of his extradition to Beirut on Monday, January 14.
However, the decision was delayed due to a government appeal. White House Spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the time, had declared that the US - "Israel's" biggest ally - was still discussing with the French government how to stop the decision.
A Wikileaks document about former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's leaked emails revealed that between January 10-14, she sent an email to former French Minister of Foreign Laurent Fabius, saying that “although the French Government has no legal authority to overturn the Court of Appeal’s January 10 decision, we hope French officials might find another basis to challenge the decision’s legality."
In other words, the US ordered the French government to stomp over its legal system and over the principle of separation of powers.
Abdallah's lawyer, Jean-Louis Chalanset, told French media that the Lebanese authorities have repeatedly said they were ready to receive Georges Abdallah in Lebanon, where he is perceived as a political prisoner.
Chalanset said a decision to release the defendant would be political before being judicial. He believes that keeping him incarcerated is a "lack of courage" and "subservience" from Paris.
Over the years, leftist MPs and human rights organizations such as the Human Rights League (LDH) and even the French intelligence chief called for Abdallah's release.
Melenchon supports Georges Abdallah
In relation to the French presidential election, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has expressed, on many occasions, his solidarity with Georges Abdallah's cause.
According to the Collective for the Liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Mélenchon's party - La France Insoumise (LFI) - regularly participates in the protests demanding the immediate release of the Lebanese revolutionary.
Watch | Protesters rally in Paris, #France to demand the release of Georges Abdallah, the longest-held political prisoner in #Europe, who has been imprisoned for 38 years. #FreeGeorgesAbdallah pic.twitter.com/FnDDUBHT8f— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) January 27, 2022
In parallel, Mélenchon’s campaign had said he is ready to back sanctions against the Israeli occupation over its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and its imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The leftist leader had pledged to cancel the so-called "Circulaire Alliot-Marie" French Ministry of Justice memorandum instructing prosecutors to crack down on BDS movement activists. On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed in 2017 that “the French state condemns BDS and all boycotts."
“I must be clear that this will continue if I am elected president,” he added during an interview with Beur FM radio.
How does Abdallah spend his time in detention?
In detention, Abdallah spends his time as a revolutionary political prisoner reading books and newspapers in five languages, writing political statements and analyses about imperialism, capitalism and colonialism, as well as replying to solidarity letters from across the world.
The Lebanese revolutionary exchanges letters with Palestinian prisoners and initiates hunger strikes in support of other prisoners, the latest of which was on April 16 in demand of the release of Sibel Balac and Gokhan Yildirim from Turkish prisons.
His latest views
In France, Abdallah considers that popular revolts and movements of the popular masses like the Yellow Vests are partially challenging capitalism.
According to Tom Martin of the Palestinian Prisoners' Solidarity Network, Samidoun, Abdallah sees with a good eye the unwavering resistance of the Palestinian people and the Lebanese people in the face of imperialism and Zionism. Nevertheless, he thinks that resistance organizations must intensify their actions and aim for a radical, clear anti-Zionism and anti-imperialist program.
In his only statement in regard to the war in Ukraine, Abdallah underlined the hypocrisy of the imperialist camp, notably by turning a blind eye to the presence of neo-Nazi Ukrainian battalions, while criminalizing pro-Palestinian movements.
He believes that the Ukrainian people are victims and that the solution to this crisis would only depend on their efforts that should be away from all imperialist forces.