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Sunday, December 4, 2016
White Father condemns French warplane deal with Israel
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 A White Father working in Jerusalem has condemned a decision by the French government to sign a $50 million arms contract with Israel. France has not yet officially announced the deal - that is expected to happen at the Paris airshow next month - but it was confirmed on Monday by French Ambassador Jacques Huntzinger and Israeli Ambassador to France Elie Barnavi at a lunch in Tel Aviv. according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. The Post wrote that the consortium EADS has agreed to co-produce the 'Eagle 1' drone with the Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI). The Eagle 1 has a range of 1,000 kilometres and can fly for 30 hours. Huntzinger is quoted as saying the French UAV deal as one of several major Franco-Israeli ventures attesting to the strength of the two countries' ties. "Franco-Israeli ties are marked by a new dynamism independent of the ups and downs of Middle East politics," said Huntzinger. Doron Suslik, deputy vice president for IAI corporate communications, declined to comment on the deal, but said that IAI has increased its marketing in Europe. In a letter to the French Consul, Fr Stéphane Joulain writes: It was with a sense of horror mixed with a great feeling of sadness, that I discovered yesterday in the press, that France has made a business deal with Israel to produce self-guided war aircraft. There is no need to remind you of the numerous human rights abuses of the State of Israel. Furthermore there is no need to repeat that Israel is one of the few states in the world left which still militarily occupies another people's land and oppresses the local population. In the present context of violence and repression, the decision of the French Government to make this contract is unacceptable and ethically wrong. I thought for some years that France, which has a long tradition of promoting human rights and fighting for the freedom of peoples, would never compromise itself with such states which have policy of xenophobic repression and military occupation, oppressing helpless people. Moreover, while the Swedish Presidency of the EU is criticizing very strongly the State of Israel, I believe that this French double language is in total disagreement of the building of a European common policy. Therefore, Your Excellency the FGCF, I strongly encourage you to question our government on the wisdom of carrying out such a contract and ask that it be cancelled immediately. A copy of this letter will be sent to the Catholic Commissions for Justice and Peace across the world, and the Bishops Conferences of the countries that are members of the EU. It will also be sent to European organisations and NGOs working for justice and peace. I hope, Your Excellency that my letter will gain your attention, and assure you of my best regards. Fr Stéphane Joulain
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