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French Commercial Court overturns ban on Israeli companies at Eurosatory defense exhibition

'France is supposed to be a friend of Israel' says group involved in appeal

Illustration of Eurosatory, an international exhibition dedicated to land and air defense and security in Villepinte near Paris, June 18, 2024. (Photo: Stevens Tomas/ABACA via Reuters)

The ban on Israeli defense firms from participating in the Eurosatory 2024 defense exhibit, requested by the French Defense Ministry, was overturned by the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris (Commercial Court of Paris) on Tuesday. 

In late May, the French Defense Ministry ordered Coges Events, the company hosting the Eurosatory 2024 exhibit, to prohibit Israeli defense firms from exhibiting at the trade show, stating, “The conditions are no longer right to host Israeli companies at the Paris show, given that the French president is calling for the cessation of IDF operations in Rafah.” 

The lifting of the ban was followed by the court ordering Coges Events to halt any measures taken against Israeli defense firms to prevent them from setting up booths at the show.

"The French Republic rectifies the decision and instructs all court representatives and security forces to enforce it and assist in its implementation, if necessary," the court stated. 

The court did not directly address a separate decision by another French court, which had barred any representatives of Israeli defense firms from attending the show. Israeli citizens wishing to attend the show were required to sign a form declaring that they did not represent Israeli defense firms in any capacity. 

The decision of that earlier court on Saturday, prohibiting Israeli representatives from attending the trade exhibit, was also appealed by Coges Events. 

Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), welcomed the court’s decision to overturn the ban. He also slammed the decision of the Bobigny District Court to prohibit Israelis representing defense companies from attending. 

“It is no longer just a question of banning Israeli companies from a stand, an already scandalous boycott decision, but of stigmatizing and blacklisting Israelis themselves! Obscene discrimination,” Arfi said of the Bobigny Court’s decision on Saturday. 

French attorney Patrick Klugman, who helped represent the Israeli firms at the court hearing, praised the court’s decision on social media.

“The President of the Paris Commercial Court has just ruled that the measure of exclusion of Israeli companies from Eurosatory is discriminatory. He ordered it to stop. I am very proud to have worked with my associates to set the law straight in this matter,” Klugman wrote on 𝕏.

Julien Roitman, chairman of the Israel-France Chamber of Commerce, expressed his concerns with Israeli tech site CTech. 

“It sets a precedent," Roitman said. "France is supposed to be a friend, not just an ally, of Israel. If an ally decides to boycott Israel and throw them out, imagine countries who are not friends or allies?” 

The Eurosatory 2024 exhibition is taking place this week and is one of the world’s largest defense fairs, with more than 1,700 firms expected to present to over 60,000 attendees from 150 countries.

Seventy-four Israeli defense firms were registered to exhibit at the trade show, with 10 of them showcasing their products. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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