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Photo by: Shahar Azran
'Prosor was unwittingly in photo with French far-rightist'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND EUROPEAN JEWISH PRESS
11/06/2011
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 remarks.

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 hatred.

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 said.

“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 Palmor.

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 Palmor.

A photographer snapped a picture of the two of them, said Palmor.

“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 end.”

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 image.

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 Nazarian attended.
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