New Far-Left French Leader Pledges to Recognize Palestinian State

New Far-Left French Leader Pledges to Recognize Palestinian State

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, France’s most prominent far-left politician, pledged in his victory speech to push for the recognition of a Palestinian state. This marked a sharp contrast with the far-right Marine Le Pen, whose party rejected Palestinian statehood.

“We will have a prime minister from the New Popular Front,” Mélenchon, the French far-left leader, posted on X on Sunday night. “We will be able to decide many things by decree. On the international level, we must agree to recognize the State of Palestine.”

Marine Le Pen has argued that her party, the National Rally, was a longtime Zionist party. Last November, Le Pen and National Rally President Jordan Bardella joined a pro-Israel rally, and Bardella stated on June 24, “Recognizing Palestine now would be recognizing terrorism.”

No party won a majority in the second round of France’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, in which all 577 seats of the National Assembly were in play. According to Le Monde, the left-wing New Popular Front alliance won 182 seats, while the centrist Ensemble, backed by President Emmanuel Macron, won 168.

National Rally won 143 seats, a disappointing result for the party after it led the first round of voting a week ago. It appeared to be in striking distance of an outright majority. Instead, centrist and left-wing candidates worked together to defeat the National Rally by having their candidates drop out of races where the other party had a better chance of winning.

Sunday marked a triumph for Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, who has been accused of dog-whistling, echoing antisemitic stereotypes, and dismissing the threat of antisemitism. Even as the French government has reported a surge in attacks on Jews — including more than 360 incidents in the first three months of 2024, a 300% increase from 2023 — Mélenchon called antisemitism in France “residual.”

The vote and result put many French Jews in an uncomfortable position. Many French Jews say that rhetoric from the far left has opened the door to antisemitism. According to a poll from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Europe, 92% of French Jews believe that France Unbowed has “contributed” to rising antisemitism.

Now, a deadlock appears to be in France’s future. Following the race, centrist Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who has Jewish roots, said he planned to step down.

The country’s Jewish community of 500,000 has been shaken since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s ensuing military campaign in Gaza, which has destroyed large swaths of the enclave. France has also seen a spike in antisemitism since Oct. 7. In a recent incident that rocked the country, two teenage boys were charged with raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl and hurling antisemitic epithets at her.

Just last week, the 88-year-old grandmother of Israeli Knesset member Sharren Haskel (New Hope) was the victim of an antisemitic assault by two Arabs outside her home in Paris.

A shock for some French Jews came in the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7, when several far-left politicians refused to condemn Hamas’ attack on Israel. Le Pen, meanwhile, has renounced antisemitism, denounced the Hamas attack and pushed a pro-Israel position.

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