The tight schedule of the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) dictated that the ceremony marking Israel's acceptance into the organization be held in Jerusalem on Tuesday, but since the date fell on the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz, a modest ceremony was held at the Israeli Embassy in Paris instead.
The ceremony is traditionally held in the country that is being accepted into the OECD. In May Israel was officially invited to join the OECD at a festive event held at the organization’s headquarters, prompting Israel's ambassador to the OECD, Nimrod Barkan, to schedule a date for the signing ceremony in Jerusalem. However, when OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria announced he would be available only on the 17th of Tammuz, he was informed that the ceremony could not be held in Israel on that specific date.
The 17th of Tammuz Fast commemorates the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the centuries and marks the beginning of the "Three Weeks of Sorrow," a 21-day period of national morning which is completed on Tisha B'Av.
A senior Foreign Ministry official said the ceremony would have been held in Israel had it not been for the heavy ultra-Orthodox presence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition.
During the ceremony, Gurria praised Israel's handling of the hyper-inflation in the 1980s and its policy during the recent economic downturn.
Israel's ambassador to France, Daniel Shek, was the senior-most Israeli official at the ceremony, during which those on hand were offered beverages but no food.