People protest arms sales to Israel outside the Eurosatory expo in Paris

Demonstrators protest arms sales to Israel outside the Eurosatory weapons expo in Paris on June 17, 2024.

(Photo: BDS France Paris-Région Parisienne)

French Court Strikes Down Ban on Israeli Participation in Paris Arms Expo

The Paris Commercial Court ruled that the French Defense Ministry's prohibition on Israeli entry to the Eurosatory exhibition amounts to illegal discrimination.

A French court on Tuesday overruled what it determined was a discriminatory ban on Israeli weapons companies' participation in one of the world's premier arms expositions.

The Paris Commercial Court reversed the French Ministry of Defense's May 31 prohibition of Israeli entry to the Eurosatory exhibition, held biennially at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center. The ministry decided to ban Israel from the event—which runs from June 17-21—following the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) May 26 attack on a refugee encampment in Rafah that killed or wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including many women and children.

However, the commercial court concurred with the France-Israel Chamber of Commerce's assertion that COGES Events, the company that organizes the expo, unfairly discriminated against Israeli exhibitors.

A separate decision by the Bobigny District Court directing COGES Events to ban any employees or representatives of Israeli companies from participating in expo was not directly addressed by Tuesday's ruling.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions hailed Tuesday's ruling as a "victory against the exclusion of Israel."

As the European Union weighed sanctioning Israel over the massacre, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Paris to condemn the Rafah tent massacre. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "outraged" over the attack and asserted that Israel's killing and maiming of civilians "must stop."

"There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians," he said. "I call for full respect for international law and an immediate cease-fire."

The French Ministry of Defense subsequently said that "the conditions are no longer right to host Israeli companies at the Paris show, given that the French president is calling for the cessation of IDF operations in Rafah."

Israel's conduct in the Gaza onslaught—which according to Palestinian and international agencies has left more than 133,000 Gazans dead, injured, or missing since the Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israel—is the subject of an International Court of Justice genocide case brought by South Africa and backed by over 30 countries and regional blocs.

Since Israel began its devastating retaliation for the October 7 attack, people worldwide have called for countries to cut off diplomatic and weapons support for Israeli forces. Over the past eight months there have also been protests in Paris and throughout France calling for a Gaza cease-fire.

Exports by Israeli arms firms soared to a record $13.1 billion last year, up from $12.5 billion in 2022, according to Israel's Ministry of Defense.

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