Sunday, June 13, 2010

Barak cancels trip to France, out of fear for arrest

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled an official visit to Paris on Sunday 13 June, announcing he would stay in Israel while the government establishes an investigative committee to explore Israel's deadly naval attack on the Freedom Flotilla.
The announcement comes after French activists who were aboard the Gaza bound aid convoy threatened to bring charges against Barak over the raid that killed nine. The suit would be filed under the principle of universal jurisdiction, a principle that allows the prosecution of suspected war criminals in countries that have no direct connection with the events, in France and in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to the Associated Press. Three members of French parliament have also joined the effort.
"We must stop this bloody Israeli escalation and the only way is international judiciary. We want to stop Israel through punishing its leaders who partook in the operation. We will mainly target the leaders who gave the orders and those who executed them," said Lilian Glock, who represents the French activists.
Barak was set to dedicate a new Israeli booth at the Eurosatory arms fair, which opens in Paris this week.
"We believe it is unacceptable and unjust that the French government hosts Ehud Barak honoring him with official ceremonies after he claimed responsibility for the attack on our flotilla and the bloodshed," said Tomas Hud, one of the Freedom Flotilla activists.
A small French cinema chain also took action to protest the Freedom Flotilla attack. The Utopia art cinemas canceled screenings of the Israeli comedy "Five Hours from Paris" and replaced them with the documentary "Rachel," about an American student crushed to death by a bulldozer in 2003 while protesting Israeli house demolitions in Gaza. “Rachel” is a documentary made by Simone Bitton, a Moroccan-born, French-Israeli director who emigrated to Israel with her family as a child, served in the Israeli army, became a pacifist and mostly lives in France, wrote the New York Times. Bitton is also the director of “Wall,” a 2004 documentary about the Israeli Separation Wall that is dividing Palestinian communities and carving up land.

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