French Court Strikes Down Ban on Israeli Companies at Weapons Show

A court in Paris ruled on Tuesday that France’s decision to bar Israeli companies from one of the world’s largest weapons shows was discriminatory and ordered the ban to be rescinded.

Eurosatory, an exhibition for the defense and armaments industry held every two years northeast of Paris, opened on Monday without any Israeli representatives. The organizers had complied with a French government order to cancel their invitations because of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

The government’s decision, which has prompted legal challenges, was made last month after an Israeli strike killed dozens of Palestinians in a tent camp in Rafah, in southern Gaza. President Emmanuel Macron of France said at the time that he was “outraged” by the strike and declared that such Israeli operations “must stop.”

Days later, the French Defense Ministry said that “the conditions are no longer conducive to receiving Israeli companies” at Eurosatory, “at a time when the French president is calling for an end to Israeli operations in Rafah.”

The company that organizes Eurosatory, COGES Events, a subsidiary of a trade association of French defense and security industries, barred Israeli companies from operating booths at the show and removed mention of them from its website.

More than 2,000 exhibitors from over 60 countries are at Eurosatory, where military and security officials from around the world rub shoulders with manufacturers showcasing drones, missiles, and other weapons and technologies.

But the Paris Commercial Court, ruling on a suit filed by the France-Israel Chamber of Commerce, said on Tuesday that the ban was illegal and ordered COGES Events to reinstate Israeli companies. The court said that the ban unfairly discriminated against Israeli exhibitors.

It was unclear whether the companies would be reinstated before the show concludes on Friday. Representatives of COGES Events and France’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, one of the largest Jewish advocacy groups in the country, welcomed the ruling. “Reason reasserts itself,” the group, known by its French acronym CRIF, said in a statement on X.

Other lawsuits over France’s decision to exclude Israeli companies from the show are still being heard.

Several pro-Palestinian groups filed a suit alleging that COGES Events needed to take further steps to comply with the ban, arguing that some of the Israeli companies might be supplying Israeli forces fighting in Gaza. A court in Bobigny, a suburb north of Paris, agreed, ruling last week that the organizers of the weapons show had to bar not only Israeli companies, but anyone acting as an intermediary or representative for an Israeli company, and had to ensure that any exhibitors did not receive, sell or promote Israeli weapons.

Association France Palestine Solidarité, one of the organizations that had filed the suit, welcomed the ruling, saying in a statement that “it is the responsibility of all players, political and economic, to do their utmost to put an end to the ongoing genocide committed by the state of Israel against the Palestinian population.”

COGES Events, with support from the French authorities, appealed that ruling, arguing that it went far beyond what the government had initially requested. That appeal was being examined on Tuesday by the Paris Appeals Court.

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