The Foreign Ministry was "taken aback" by Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman's sharp and public criticism of France for their role in getting EU nations to vote for Friday's General Assembly condemnation of Israel, sources in the ministry said Sunday. "Nobody authorized him to touch off an open crisis with France," one ministry source said. "We didn't need that, we could have asked for explanations from the French in private, we don't need to fan the flames in public."
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Gillerman, in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Friday during a debate on the resolution that condemned Israel for its military actions in Gaza, turned to the French delegation and asked, "If France was shelled from across the border, what would the French do? Would the French government send flowers to their attackers? Well, by voting for this resolution you will be sending flowers to the terrorists, flowers which tomorrow will be laid on the grave of the next Israeli victim."
Gillerman was also quoted as saying over the weekend that the French were "more active in furthering the passing of the resolution than the Qataris, who initially presented the resolution."
He also reportedly blamed the French for convincing EU countries like Germany and Poland, who wanted to abstain, to vote for the resolution.
"What motivated the French was the situation in Lebanon," Gillerman was quoted as saying. "This was their expression over the continuation of Israeli over flights in Lebanon, which they believe endanger their troops there."
Sources in the Foreign Ministry said that these comments opened a public crisis with France, which would be more difficult to defuse.
"We have ways to transmit to the French what we think," the sources said. "A public scolding by Gillerman doesn't help."
The source agreed, however, that the French had a leading role in adapting language that enabled other EU countries to vote for the resolution. "The French were instrumental in leading the EU to vote for the resolution," he said.
Nevertheless, he said, "we have a whole set of grievances that we can settle with them only if we do it discreetly on a one-to-one basis. When you go public, positions harden and it only makes it more difficult to overcome them."