The Foreign Ministry on Thursday upbraided the French Consulate General in Jerusalem over remarks made by France's Consul General in Jerusalem, Frédéric Desagneaux, that the Ministry said “denies the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.” In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that Israel was “shocked that the French Consul General was joining forces with those who would rewrite history to reflect specific agendas and erase the Jewish and Israeli connection to the Land of Israel.”
The statement comes after an event the French Consulate General held in Jerusalem recently, celebrating what the Consulate General said was “the 150th anniversary of France's contributions to archaeology in Palestine.” Present at the event were representatives of the Palestinian Authority; Israeli officials were not invited.
In his remarks, Desagneaux discussed “the important archaeological projects that French archaeologists had helped to uncover in Palestine,” including the Qumran Caves and Masada, stressing their connection to “Palestinian history. We have seen how important these heritage sites are to international recognition of Palestine, and France intends to continue to lead the movement to recognize the Palestinian's management of these sites,” he said.
Praising the cooperation between France and the PA, Desagneaux said that “in 150 years we have moved from French archaeology to Franco-Palestinian archaeology, and of course this is a wonderful development.” Desagneaux did not mention the Israeli or Jewish connection to these sites, and did not mention any cooperation between Israeli and French archaeologists.
Desagneaux discussed other important sites in Jerusalem and provided a timeline of French archaeological activity in Israel, ignoring connection between any of the sites mentioned and Jewish history, and failing to mention the extensive cooperation between Jewish and Israeli archaeologists with France during the period. Palmor said that France had unfortunately, wittingly or unwittingly, joined in with the PA on “denying the Jewish history of the Land of Israel, an official policy of the Palestinian Authority. It is unworthy for an official representative of France to provide assistance to this kind of propaganda, at the expense of fairness and historical truth,” Palmor added.
France's General Consul in Jerusalem has not yet responded to the Foreign Ministry's statement, the Ministry said.