French locality honors killer of U.S., Israeli diplomats

PARIS (JTA) — A suburb of Paris honored a man imprisoned for helping to murder diplomats from Israel and the United States.

A majority of aldermen from the City Council of Bagnolet east of the French capital voted on Wednesday to make the Lebanese citizen, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, an honorary resident, calling him a “communist activist” and “political prisoner” who “belongs to the resistance movement of Lebanon, his country,” French media reported Friday.

Abdallah, a founder of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction, was captured in 1984. A French court sentenced him in 1987 to life in prison for complicity in the 1982 assassinations of Charles R. Ray, a U.S. military attache serving in Paris, and Yacov Bar-Simantov, a second counsellor at the Israeli embassy in Paris.

Bar-Simantov’s killer, a woman wearing a white beret, fled into the Paris subway after shooting him in the head in front of his wife and children at their apartment building.

Abdallah shot Ray, an assistant military attache, outside Ray’s apartment building the same year.

The motion passed by the council of Bagnolet, where the French Communist party enjoys a majority, does not mention his crimes. In it, he is referred to as a “one of Europe’s last remaining political prisoners” and “determined defender of the Palestinian just cause.”

His release is being prevented “primarily because of the intervention of the U.S. government,” the motion read.

“To call for his liberation, the municipal council declares him an honorary citizen of Bagnolet,” it says.

Abdallah, who was first eligible for parole in 1999, has failed in eight bids to be released. A parole board approved his most recent bid in January, but the interior minister, Manuel Valls, refused to sign the order after complaints from the U.S. embassy and lawmakers in the U.S. Congress.

Contacted by JTA, a spokesperson for the city of Bagnolet said the mayor had no immediate comment on the issue.

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