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Middle East

Israel denies pro-Palestinian French mayor entry

media Palestinian demonstrators burn an Israeli flag during protests in Gaza last Friday REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The mayor of a town on the outskirts of Paris has called on President Emmanuel Macron to oppose the "constant humiliation" of "French citizens forbidden to enter Palestine" after being banned from entering the West Bank by Israel.

The Communist mayor of Gennevilliers, Patrice Leclerc, was prevented from entering the West Bank from Jordan on Monday night.

The Israeli interior and strategic affairs ministries said the ban was because he supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for a boycott of Israel in opposition to its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli parliament voted to deny entry to supporters of BDS in March 2017.

“We will not allow anyone who acts against Israel to enter Israel in order to act and incite against the state,” Interior Minister Arieh Deri said.

He said Leclerc and his wife had been barred from entry because of their support for BDS, recognition of Palestinian statehood and declarations of sympathy for Marwan Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Fatah movement who is serving several life sentences for murder of Israelis.

The ban would be particularly sternly enforced against individuals who hold public office, Internal Security Minister Gilan Erden said.

“This situation marks a hardening of the state of Israel’s position regarding those who act for the right of the Palestinians to have a free and independent state,” Leclerc commented on Facebook.

He had been prevented from travelling to Jerusalem after six hours detention and six hours interrogation, he said, adding that the French embassy and its consulate in Jerusalem had intervened in his favour but to no effect.

"France, and in particular President Macron, must reject this constant humiliation with respect to French citizens forbidden to enter Palestine," Leclerc said, adding a call to recognise Palestine as a state.

Last week Deri announced that he would bar Dublin’s first lord mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, from entering Israel.

But minutes later Mac Donncha tweeted that he was already in Ramallah.

An interior ministry spokesman told Haaretz newspaper that border control officials had failed to stop him because his name had been incorrectly spelled on the order.

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