The city of Bezons, a suburb of Paris, decided last month to grant honorary citizenship to Majdi Rahima Rimawi, the terrorist who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 80 years by Israel for his role in the 2001 assassination of then-Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
Around 200 people reportedly attended a meeting held at the Bezons city hall last month that dealt with "solidarity with the Palestinian people." Several days earlier, another meeting at the Bezons city hall dealt with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
The population of Bezons stands at some 28,000 residents. The mayor is Dominique Lesparre, a member of the French Communist party. Bezons has a sister-city agreement with Bani Zeid, the West Bank town where Rimawi's family lives.
An inscription on the plaque prepared by Bezons refers to Rimawi as a "political prisoner."
In a speech, Lesparre justified Rimawi's actions, calling him a "victim."
Ze'evi was shot dead at a Jerusalem hotel Oct. 17, 2001, during the Second Intifada. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was responsible for the assassination. Ze'evi is the only Israeli government minister to have ever been killed in an Arab terrorist attack.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) slammed the decision to honor Rimawi.
"This is an outrageous and horrific decision, not just to honor a murderer, but the murderer of an Israeli government cabinet minister," said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor. "Today is exactly a year since the terrible and tragic murder of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse and the honoring of Rimawi in France demonstrates that murder and terrorism is being glorified when it should be condemned in all forms."
"We call on the French authorities to immediately remove this stain from the French landscape out of respect for a friendly government, the people of France and tolerance," he added.
"It is inconceivable that an elected figure can be so ignorant as to call a cold-blooded murderer a victim," Kantor said, referring to Lesparre. "This is the kind of ignorance that 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."
Mohammed Merah killed Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his two eldest children and the daughter of the principal of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in an anti-Semitic attack in Toulouse last March.