France is outlawing two Palestine solidarity groups

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  February 24, 2022

As world attention focuses on the Russian attack on Ukraine, France’s interior minister announced that he is banning two Palestine solidarity organizations.

Gérald Darmanin tweeted on Thursday that “at the request” of President Emmanuel Macron, he would move to dissolve Palestine Vaincra (Palestine Will Win) and Comité Palestine Action (Palestine Action Committee).

The interior minister included a link to a news report from Europe 1 with more details about his action.

“Under cover of supporting the Palestinian cause, the government accuses the groups of promoting hatred of Israel,” Europe 1 states.

Citing Darmanin, Europe 1 says that Palestine Vaincra is being banned for “calling for hatred, discrimination and violence.” France is also accusing it of ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party and resistance organization that Israel and France view as “terrorist.”

Notably, allegations of ties with the PFLP is the same pretext Israel gave in October for designating six renowned Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist” organizations.

Some of those groups are funded by the European Union and its member states.

According to Europe 1, Darmanin accuses Palestine Vaincra of claiming that Muslim people around the world are oppressed by “imperialism and world Zionism” and for “spreading the idea of there being Islamophobia at a global level.”

Palestine Vaincra says that it “supports the Palestinian people’s struggle against Zionism, imperialism and Arab reactionary regimes for the liberation of all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”

One of its current campaigns aims to raise the issue of Palestine during France’s presidential elections scheduled for later this year.

According to Europe 1, the Macron administration is banning Comité Action Palestine for “relaying communiques from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine and of Hizballah [in Lebanon] and for reporting on their actions.”

Comité Action Palestine describes itself as a group that “works for the realization of the national rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the right to self-determination and the right of return of refugees, that is to say the liberation of the Arab land of Palestine.”

During the attack on Gaza in May, when Israel annihilated entire families in their homes, Comité Action Palestine upheld the right of Palestinians to engage in military resistance against Israeli occupation forces.

Darmanin may reject such views but France’s decision to outlaw groups for their political opinions is blatant suppression of free speech.

Europe 1 notes that last year, the Macron administration banned two organization, CCIF, a group that combats discrimination against Muslims, and BarakaCity, a Muslim charity, accusing them of “separatism.”

The latest move appears to be the first time the French government will dissolve organizations specifically focused on Palestine.

It marks an alarming escalation in the country’s ongoing crackdown on free speech and political expression in support of Palestinian rights.

During Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last May, French authorities banned a rally in solidarity with Palestinians and arrested Bertrand Heilbronn, the head of the activist group Association France-Palestine Solidarité, just after he had left a meeting in the foreign ministry in Paris.

In 2020, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France’s criminal prosecutions of Palestine solidarity activists violated their political rights.

However Paris announced that it would effectively ignore the decision and continue its crackdown.

The French interior minister’s decision to ban the two groups was announced on the day President Macron was due to address the annual gala of CRIF, France’s main Israel lobby and Jewish communal group.

But with the crisis in Ukraine growing, Macron decided to send his prime minister instead.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)