French President Nicolas Sarkozy and
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
appealed to Israel for clemency for a French-Palestinian who was jailed
for his role in plotting the assassination of Shas spiritual leader
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Sarkozy's letter was delivered to the prime minister's bureau in
Jerusalem on July 30 by way of the Israeli embassy in Paris just a few
days after a similar letter was sent by Kouchner to Defense Minister
The unusual request was made after pro-Palestinian groups in France
lobbied for the release of the Palestinian, whose imprisonment has been
likened there to the captivity of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad
The incarcerated Palestinian,
Salah Hamouri, is an Arab resident of
Jerusalem who holds French citizenship. Sarkozy and Kouchner urged
Israel to reduce Hamouri's sentence by a third due to good behavior.
"He has a chance to rehabilitate himself," Sarkozy wrote to Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hamouri, 24, is a member of the People's Front for the Liberation
of Palestine. In 2005, he was arrested after co-conspiring with others
to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Hamouri and his friends, who
purchased weapons and ammunition, planned to murder Yosef, whose
address in the Har-Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem was known to them
because one of the members of the cell had worked as a food delivery
man for a local eatery.
During police questioning and the trial, Hamouri confessed to planning
Since his incarceration, Hamouri's mother, Denise, has led a public
campaign with the aid of Palestinian non-government groups in France.
Denise Hamouri argues that since her son is a French citizen, France
needs to act to win his release in the same manner in which it has
lobbied for the freedom of Shalit, the IDF soldier who also holds
After many months of intense efforts, Denise Hamouri was granted a
meeting with an aide to Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, though she was
denied the opportunity to meet with the president himself.
A spokesman in Netanyahu's bureau said that the legal aspects of
the issue are being examined by the Foreign Ministry's legal advisor
and a letter of response to the French is forthcoming.