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French diplomat involved in fracas with soldiers to leave Israel

September 27, 2013|By Batsheva Sobelman
  • A picture taken on Sept. 20 shows French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing speaking on a phone as she sits inside a truck loaded with supplies on a road leading to the West Bank village of Khirbet al-Makhul.
A picture taken on Sept. 20 shows French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing… ( AFP/Getty Images )

JERUSALEM -- A French diplomat involved in a physical altercation with Israeli soldiers last week will end her duties and leave Israel before the end of the year, local media reported Friday.

According to the daily Israel Hayom, Israel and France reached a joint decision to terminate the post of Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attache at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, in order to avert an emerging diplomatic crisis and maintain good bilateral relations.

Fesneau-Castaing accused soldiers of "manhandling" her when she and other diplomats and activists were trying to deliver humanitarian aid to a Palestinian community whose West Bank homes were demolished recently by Israeli authorities.

Soldiers denied the convoy access to the site and confiscated tents and other aid. Fesneau-Castaing said she was dragged out of the truck and mistreated. The army said soldiers met with violent resistance and footage of the incident shows her striking a soldier.

The incident angered the European Union, whose policy chief Catherine Ashton criticized the confiscation of humanitarian aid and demanded explanations from Israel.

Enraged with what they called a provocation on the part of European diplomats, Israel's Ministry of Foreign affairs threatened a strong response, reportedly declaring the attache persona non-grata, removing her diplomatic immunity and expelling her from the country.

Media reports quoted an Israeli official saying the event was "an isolated incident that doesn't characterize relations between the two countries."

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