newsIsrael at War

Paris court reverses ban on Israeli defense firms at arms show

It's unclear if the ruling comes in time for Israeli companies to recoup their losses.

Eurosatory 2022. Source: YouTube/screenshot.
Eurosatory 2022. Source: YouTube/screenshot.

The Tribunal de commerce de Paris, or Commercial Court of Paris, on Tuesday reversed a ban imposed on Israeli defense companies to prevent them from exhibiting at this year’s Eurosatory, a biennial weapons trade show.

The court also ruled as discriminatory a separate decision that had barred all Israeli citizens from visiting the show unless they signed a waiver declaring they weren’t there in any official capacity.

The France-Israel Chamber of Commerce brought the appeal. French attorney Patrick Klugman, who helped represent Israel at the hearing, posted the decision to his X account.

While celebrating the decision, Julien Roitman, chairman of the Israel-France Chamber of Commerce—the sister organization of the group bringing the appeal—expressed his ongoing concerns to Israel technology news site CTech:

“It sets a precedent,” he said. “France is supposed to be a friend, not just an ally, of Israel. If an ally decides to boycott Israel and throw them out, imagine countries who are not friends or allies?”

It’s unclear if the reversal comes in time for Israeli companies to recoup their losses. The fair ends on Friday.

Seventy-four Israeli firms were set to exhibit. Ten were to display weapons.

According to reports, Israeli defense firms had invested much effort into preparing for the exhibition when the rug was pulled out from under them just 18 days before the show’s opening.

Israeli defense technologies are increasingly sought after, with defense exports doubling over the last half decade, reaching a record $13 billion last year. That made 2023 the third consecutive record-breaking year for defense exports, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday.

The decision to ban all Israelis came only five days before the show’s start, after 50 NGOs, led by anti-Israel Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, (designated by Israel as a terror group in October 2021), petitioned the French district court in Bobigny, arguing that Israeli citizens might act as intermediaries for their country’s defense firms.

The court agreed with the petitioners and instituted an Israeli-wide ban on June 15, hardening the May 31 ban announced by the French Armed Forces Ministry that barred Israeli defense companies.

The pretext for the initial ban appears to have been the May 26 Israeli airstrike that resulted in the deaths of 45 people in a tent camp in Rafah.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed anger over the incident, tweeting on May 27, “Outraged by the Israeli strikes that have killed many displaced persons in Rafah.” 

It later emerged that the civilians were likely killed not as a direct result of the airstrike, but by a blaze started when Hamas munitions caught fire.

Israeli leaders forcefully condemned France’s ban. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “At a time when the State of Israel is fighting the most just war in its history, France has shown hostility and enmity against us, while blatantly ignoring the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against women and children just because they are Jews.”

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