The Paris suburb of Bezons confers honorary citizenship on Majdi al-Rimawi, a PFLP terrorist operative imprisoned in Israel for his part in the assassination of Israeli Government Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi, one of the assassins of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi, and the certification of his honorary citizenship, as broadcast on the official Palestinian TV channel (Palestinian TV, February 17, 2013, via Palestinian Media Watch, PMW).

Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi, one of the assassins of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi, and the certification of his honorary citizenship, as broadcast on the official Palestinian TV channel (Palestinian TV, February 17, 2013, via Palestinian Media Watch, PMW).

Dominique Lesparre, mayor of Bezons.

Dominique Lesparre, mayor of Bezons.

The council meeting where it was unanimously decided to confer honorary citizenship on Majdi al-Rimawi (Bezons local newsletter, March 2013).

The council meeting where it was unanimously decided to confer honorary citizenship on Majdi al-Rimawi (Bezons local newsletter, March 2013).

The ceremony where honorary citizenship was conferred on Majdi al-Rimawi, one of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi's assassins, by the mayor of Bezons (Facebook, March 11, 2013).

The ceremony where honorary citizenship was conferred on Majdi al-Rimawi, one of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi's assassins, by the mayor of Bezons (Facebook, March 11, 2013).

Majdi al-Rimawi during his trial in Israel (Ma'an News Agency, March 11, 2013).

Majdi al-Rimawi during his trial in Israel (Ma'an News Agency, March 11, 2013).

Majdi al-Rimawi studies in his cell in an Israeli jail (Qudsnet website, July 15, 2012).

Majdi al-Rimawi studies in his cell in an Israeli jail (Qudsnet website, July 15, 2012).


Overview

1. The local council of Bezons, a suburb located northwest of Paris, recently conferred honorary citizenship on Majdi al-Rimawi, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) operative who carried out or participated in a series of terrorist attacks, including the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Majdi al-Rimawi is currently serving a sentence of life imprisonment plus eighty years in an Israeli jail. He was awarded Bezons citizenship "by unanimous vote"[1] [according to the Bezons' council website] at a meeting of the local council called for that purpose on February 13, 2013, to show solidarity with the Palestinian people (Ma'an News Agency, March 11, 2013). A few days previously the council held a meeting dedicated to "Palestinian political prisoners" serving terms in Israeli jails.

2. The ceremony, held in Bezons, was attended by al-Rimawi's wife, Fathia Barghouti (al-Rimawi), who, until the recent elections, was the mayor of West Bani Zeid, a village north of Ramallah (where al-Rimawi lived until he was jailed). Citizenship was conferred as a result of collaboration between his wife, a member of the Barghouti family, and the head of the local council. Bezons and West Bani Zeid have been twin cities since 2008 (NRG website, March 11, 2013).

3. According to al-Rimawi's wife, "the connection between the city of Bezons and the Municipality of West Bani Zeid began in 2008… The matter of prisoners in our region caught the attention of [our] French brothers, and they decided to honor them by granting honorary citizenship to a prisoner from this area… For us, the family of the prisoner, this award is a great gesture from the French [people] and [shows their] support of the issue of Palestinian prisoners in general, and in particular the issue of prisoners sentenced to long prison terms."[2]

4. Dominique Lesparre, the mayor of the Bezons municipal council, wrote in his blog (and published in the local newsletter) that a so-called "genocide" was being carried out in Palestine (a spurious claim routinely repeated by the people waging the campaign to vilify and delegitimize the State of Israel). Regarding Majdi al-Rimawi he said that he was "a participant in the intifada, the struggle for the right to self-defense and to defend his country against the occupation. For his resistance, he has been in prison since 2002." He said that conferring citizenship on him was a strong political statement and that al-Rimawi took strength from the Palestinian struggle and the demonstrations of solidarity around the globe. He also called him a "direct victim of the occupation," and appealed to the French government to demand that Israel release him.[3] He made no mention whatsoever of the fact that Majdi al-Rimawi was in prison for the premeditated murder and involvement in various other terrorist attacks. In addition, the Bezons newsletter said that he had been in prison for more than a decade for the sole crime of "defending his town and its residents, and demanding that international law recognize the 1967 borders, and for that he had been sentenced to more than 80 years in prison" (Haaretz, March 10, 2013).

5. In our assessment, conferring honorary citizenship on the PFLP's Majdi al-Rimawi was not a chance occurrence. Anti-Israeli organizations in France and Italy maintain ongoing relations with the PFLP, the notorious terrorist organization to which Majdi al-Rimawi belongs. Those relations include the attendance of PFLP activists from Ramallah at meetings in France. In addition, activists of the pro-Palestinian network Freedom Flotilla Italia, met with PFLP activists in the Gaza Strip.[4]

The Bezons Conferral of Honorary Citizenship and Reactions

6. The town of Bezons, a suburb of Paris, is home to 28,000 residents. Since 2008 its mayor has been Dominique Lesparre, a member of the French Communist Party. Under his leadership the township was involved in supporting the Mavi Marmara flotilla to the Gaza Strip, and in 2008 it became a twin town of West Bani Zeid, a village north of Ramallah, where the al-Rimawi family lives (Haaretz, February 10, 2013).

7. Olivier Regis, a Bezons council member representing the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP), a right-center party, protested the measure and said that Lesparre had turned the council meeting into a political event (Haaretz, March 10, 2013). The European Jewish Congress (EJC) condemned the event and called on the French authorities to condemn Lesparre as well. EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said that it was "inconceivable for an elected official to be so ignorant as to call a cold-blooded murderer a victim." He said, “[T]his is the kind of ignorance which leads to people like Mohammed Merah perpetrating the murder of children because they are Jewish. This type of glorification of murder is sending a very ominous message to the next Merah.”[5] He also said that he had hoped that the murder in Toulouse would shock France but unfortunately it hadn't been strong to shock those who attack Jews and other minorities (Jerusalem Post, March 11, 2013).

8. The Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations[6] published an open letter of condemnation of Bezons in its newsletter, March 13, 2013:

The open letter of March 13, 2013.
The open letter of March 13, 2013.

Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi

Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi
Left: Majdi al-Rimawi during his trial in Israel (Ma'an News Agency, March 11, 2013). Right: Majdi al-Rimawi studies in his cell in an Israeli jail (Qudsnet website, July 15, 2012).

9. Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi (Abu Saed) was born in 1965 in the village of Beit Rima, today part of West Bani Zeid, where the family now lives. He studied at Bir Zeit University where he was apparently exposed to PFLP activity and joined its ranks. He was an operative in the that terrorist organization during the first intifada. He wanted to finish his studies in the former Soviet Union but could not because the Israeli authorities prevented him from leaving the country. In 1995 he married Fathia al-Barghouti, and has two sons, Saed and Marah. In 2005 he supported his wife when she ran for the office of mayor of West Bani Zeid (Ajras al-Awda forum website, March 11, 2009).

10. Majdi al-Rimawi was a PFLP operations officer. In 2001 he worked alongside PFLP senior operative Ahed Ghalma (See below) and helped plan deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Yehud (central Israel). He was head of the terrorist squad that assassinated Rehavam Ze'evi and drove the getaway car. Al-Rimawi recruited, handled and dispatched the squad.

The Assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi and the Apprehension of the Assassins

11. At 0700 hours on the morning of October 17, 2001, Rehavam Ze'evi, Israeli Minister of Tourism, was assassinated on his way back to his room after breakfasting with his wife at the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem. He was shot in the head three times at close range. His assassins immediately fled to an area under Palestinian Authority control. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the assassination, allegedly committed in retaliation for the murder of their leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, in August 2001.

12. The assassins sought sanctuary in the Muqata'ah in Ramallah, where they hid, under the protection of Yasser Arafat. In April 2002, During Operation Defensive Shield (March-May 2002), after IDF forces lay siege to the Muqata'ah, an international agreement was reached, authorized by the Israeli Cabinet (known as "the Ramallah arrangement"). According to the agreement, observers from the United States and Britain would oversee the detention of Rehavam Ze'evi's assassins in the Palestinian jail in Jericho.

13. The four assassins of Rehavam Ze'evi and Ahmad Sa'adat, PFLP chairman who was also in the Jericho jail for his involvement in the assassination, enjoyed five-star accommodations. From jail, Sa'adat and Ahed Ghalma, head of the PFLP's military-terrorist wing, continued to run and direct the PFLP's terrorist activities, giving instructions for terrorist attacks. In the elections held on January 25, 2006, Ahmad Sa'adat headed the PFLP slate and was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. He also conducted coalition negotiations with Hamas, which promised to ensure his release after the new Palestinian government had been formed.

PFLP poster issued in October 2005 on the fourth anniversary of the death of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. It shows his four assassins, one with a foot on a "coffin."
PFLP poster issued in October 2005 on the fourth anniversary of the death of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. It shows his four assassins, one with a foot on a "coffin." The photo at the upper right is of Abu Ali Mustafa, PFLP secretary general killed by the IDF; the photo at the upper left is of his successor, Ahmad Sa'adat, responsible for the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi and imprisoned in Israel. The inscription at the bottom of the poster reads "Our battalions will continue to work to destroy [your Zionist] enterprise."

14. In January 2006, after Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Ismail Haniya announced his intention to release Rehavam Ze'evi's assassins. On March 14, 2006, the American and British guards left the Jericho prison, claiming the PA had not fulfilled the conditions of the agreement reached with Israel four years previously and therefore could not ensure their safety. That led to an immediate IDF response.

15. On the morning of March 14, 2006, IDF forces entered Jericho and surrounded the PA jail (Operation First Fruits). After the blockade, which lasted nine hours, 300 Palestinian prisoners and guards surrendered to the IDF. Thirty-eight of them were detained and brought to the Israeli security forces for interrogation and trial (two of them were Ahmad Sa'adat and Majdi al-Rimawi).

IDF forces surround the Jericho prison (Al-Arabiya TV, March 14, 2006).
IDF forces surround the Jericho prison (Al-Arabiya TV, March 14, 2006).

16. On July 29, 2008, Majdi al-Rimawi was found guilty by the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem of a series of crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, murder, attempted murder, crimes related to weapons and training with weapons. Regarding the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi, according to the indictment, Majdi al-Rimawi planned the assassination, and recruited, trained and dispatched the terrorist operatives who committed it. He gave the murderer money to stay in a room at the hotel in which the assassination was committed, and authorized the enlistment of two other terrorist operatives, and prepared them for the attack himself. He gave the assassins three handguns and an assault rifle, and ordered them to rent a car for the attack.

17. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment and 80 additional years in jail. According to the sentence [ITIC translation from the Hebrew; ITIC emphasis], "the accused has been convicted of the crime of premeditated murder, according to Article 300 of the penal code, the punishment for which is mandatory life imprisonment. The accused initiated and planned a long series of [terrorist] attacks, placed IEDs in various locations in Israel in 2001 with the intention of causing death and damage. Even if he did not do the deeds himself, he is responsible and more than responsible for them. Consecutive sentences in these cases of serious crimes are mandatory because of the repeated attempts made to kill innocent people with IEDs and shooting at passing cars" (Major Criminal Case no. 516/08 Jerusalem).

Appendix
Captured Document Dealing with the Activities of Majdi Rahima al-Rimawi

During Operation Defensive Shield (March 29 – May 10, 2002) IDF forces seized documents dealing with the terrorist operatives involved in the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi. For example: a document with information about Majdi al-Rimawi during the period after the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi. It said he was in contact with Ahed Ghalma, and that the two of them were in contact with Ahmad Sa'adat, PFLP secretary general, imprisoned in Israel for his responsibility for the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi. The document was written a short time after the assassination, and seized in the village of Bitunia.

Translation [ITIC emphasis throughout]

The Palestinian National Authority

Preventive Intelligence Headquarters

Ramallah Administration

Date: November 3, 2001

[To:] Brother Abu Rabi', may Allah preserve him

In re: Intelligence information

[Note:] For immediate update [of] Colonel Abu Ali, may Allah preserve him

Majdi al-Rimawi studied at Bir Zeit University and was drawn to the Front [the PFLP]and student activity by Fateh al-Rimawi, one of the members of the teams dealing with student activity in the university. They both have very close ties to the person in charge of students in the organization [the PFLP], George Qarat. The organizational circle has expanded within the PFLP, and it is apparent that there is a special connection between the two mentioned above and Rami Fadhael, Samer al-Arbid and Ahmad Washha.

Hazem Thalgi, responsible for the PFLP office in Beit Rima, who has official relations with George Qarat, joined their circle. Another name was mentioned in connection with them, that of Shadi al-Khawaja, a resident of Ramallah.

Majdi al-Rimawi has excellent connection with the wanted Ahed Ghalma, responsible for the operational wing [of the PFLP]. The names mentioned above refer to operatives on the ground, and are a very important wing handled by Ahmad Sa'adat.

With great respect

Your brother

Hikmat Sami

[To] Brother Abu al-Sa'id

Copy [to be passed to] The central committee

 [Copy to be passed to] The crisis team, according to instructions

The Original Document
The Original Document

[1] http://www.ville-bezons.fr/acces-thematiques/developpement-durable/actualites/actualite/article/soutien-au-peuple-palestinien/?tx_accessibleratings[ref]=tt_news_414&tx_accessibleratings[value]=1
[2] http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8640
[3] http://dominiquelesparre.com/2013/02/17/majdi-ihrima-al-rimawi-prisonnier-palestinien-fait-citoyen-dhonneur-de-la-ville-de-bezons,also published in the Bezons newsletter, March 2013.
[4] For further information about the links between anti-Israeli activists in France and PFLP activists see the February 17, 2013 bulletin, "Terrorism and human rights: Shawan Jabarin, human rights organization director and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist activist, recently visited France to participate in the anti-Israeli campaign," and the February 28, 2013 bulletin, “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Cooperation with European Anti-Israeli Networks: Freedom Flotilla Italia as a Case Study.”
[5] http://www.moshekantor.com/en/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=7493
[6] Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France