'Prosor was unwittingly in photo with French far-rightist'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND EUROPEAN JEWISH PRESS
Foreign Ministry spokesman says "it was an error of judgment" for UN ambassador to be photographed with leader of far-right French party.
Israel was pressed Sunday to explain how its ambassador to the United Nations,
Ron Prosor, posed for a photograph with extreme-right French presidential
candidate Marine Le Pen.
“It was an error of judgment,” Foreign Ministry
spokesman Yigal Palmor said of the diplomatic faux pas, that was picked up by
the French press.
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Israel has a “no contact” policy with Le Pen’s
ultra-nationalist party, founded by her father Jean- Marie, a controversial
politician who made headlines with his anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim
Marine Le Pen said she hoped that Prosor’s presence at a
Thursday event at the UN organized by her party, proved it had turned the page
after its history that included remarks made by her father Jean- Marie Le Pen,
whom she succeeded as party leader in January.
Jean-Marie Le Pen had
described the Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of WWII.” He later repeated the
remark, earning himself a conviction in Germany for inciting racial
Palmor rejected Marine Le Pen’s statement and said that Israel’s
stance against the party remains intact.
On Thursday, Prosor went to what
he thought was an event organized by the French mission, Palmor
“Once he was in and he saw what it really was and who she [Marine
Le Pen] was, he preferred not to make a spectacle of himself,” said
Prosor tried to make his way slowly out of the room, but was
stopped by Marine Le Pen who spoke with him and shook his hand, said
A photographer snapped a picture of the two of them, said
“At that point, [Prosor] understood that it was too late to come
out of the event unnoticed,” said Palmor.
“There was an exchange of
words. He thought it would be better if he were a diplomat to the bitter
A journalist asked Prosor a question, and he gave what he
considered to be a diplomatic answer, said Palmor.
In describing his
conversation with Le Pen, Prosor told a reporter, “We flourish on the diversity
of ideas. We talked about Europe, about other issues and I enjoyed the
conversation very much.”
Marine Le Pen rejected any claim that Prosor’s
actions last week were accidental.
“No one can imagine for half a second
that the ambassador took the wrong door,” she said after the UN gathering in New
York on Thursday aimed at countering her party’s anti-Semitic and xenophobic
Marine Le Pen, who is a member of the European Parliament, said
there was not “the least ambiguity” about the meeting.
About 30 people
were invited to a lunch meeting by Le Pen’s entourage. Among diplomats, only
Prosor, the deputy ambassador for Japan, Kazuo Kodama, the Trinidad and Tobago
ambassador Rodney Charles, Uruguay’s envoy Jose Luis Cancela and Armenia’s Garen