The view overlooking one of three major halls at Eurosatory 2024 in Paris. (Breaking Defense)

EUROSATORY 2024 — The massive European defense show Eurosatory is already nearing its halfway point, but that’s apparently not too late to introduce French courtroom drama related to the controversial ban on Israeli firms here.

This morning a commerce court in Paris said organizers should allow companies from Israel to attend the show, according to court documents posted online and confirmed to Breaking Defense by the exhibition’s organizers. However, with further legal wrangling to come and with only a few days left in the exhibition, it’s unclear what the ruling actually will change on the ground.

On May 31, the French defense ministry announced Israeli defense firms would be disinvited from the show, saying “conditions” were not right to welcome them while French President Emmanuel Macron was calling for an end to Israeli operations in Rafah. Macron has sharply criticized Israel’s conduct in the Gaza conflict, especially in the wake of a May 26 Israeli airstrike that killed 45 Palestinians and injured scores more in Rafah.

Then, earlier this week, a French high court in Bobigny, on the Paris outskirts, went further at the request of four pro-Palestinian associations, banning representatives of those firms from personally attending the show, whatever their nationality.

Today a Parisian court, in response to a complaint by Israeli firms, said the original order from the French defense ministry should be reversed thereby allowing Israeli companies to attend the show — but that decision now runs counter to the decision from Bobigny. The matter there is set to be further adjudicated tonight after Eurosatory organizers, COGES, appealed the Bobigny ban.

All that leaves COGES caught in the middle, with only a few days to go. Already COGES has publicly apologized Monday after an event form related to Israeli citizenship was published online and caused controversy in Israel, saying it was a response to the Bobigny order.

Prior to the ban, nearly 70 Israeli firms had been listed as exhibitors, including defense heavyweights Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Elbit. Earlier this month, in response to the defense ministry’s ban, an IAI  executive told Breaking Defense the move created the “wrong narrative.”

“It was a surprise because it’s associated with the wrong narrative, that tells the opposite story from the reality,” Yehuda Lahav, executive vice president of marketing at IAI told Breaking Defense at the Berlin Air Show. “On the seventh of October, we were the victim. We were attacked and slaughtered by terrorist organisations, and we have the right to defend ourselves.”