Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, said over the weekend that his attendance at a luncheon for Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing party National Front and presidential candidate, at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday was a "mistake".

"It was an event that I wasn't supposed to be at to begin with, and I got there by accident. When I realized my mistake, I immediately left the event,” Prosor said after the event.

Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front party.

French media outlets reported widely on Prosor’s attendance at the UN event organized in Le Pen’s honor. French media noted that the Israeli ambassador shook Le Pen’s hand and remained at the event for 20 minutes. French newspapers also published a photograph of Prosor and Le Pen standing together.

Ambassador Prosor denied the contents of the French reports in a conversation with Haaretz. “After I saw Marine Le Pen there, I immediately realized that I had no place being there, and I left the room,” said Prosor.

The ambassador also said that no conversation took place between himself and Le Pen. “I didn’t remain there and I didn’t hear her briefing,” he said.

Prosor’s version of the events contradicts comments he made to reporters outside the event. Before he entered the hall, Prosor was asked by a French journalist if he is the “number one” Israeli diplomat at the United Nations. According to Prosor’s own recollection, he responded, “I replied to him that I am not a number, but a free man.”

When Prosor left the event, he was filmed by television cameras saying, “We spoke about Europe and other topics and I very much enjoyed the conversation.”

Le Pen herself was quoted by French news agencies on Saturday, saying that the Israeli ambassador’s presence at the event “was not an error.” According to Le Pen, “Please, no one actually imagines that the ambassador burst through the wrong door.”

The National Front leader added, “It is impossible to converse with Marine Le Pen for 20 minutes without knowing who she is.” According to Le Pen, “There was nothing unclear or ambiguous about our meeting.”

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that the meeting with Le Pen was “a fundamental mistake and does not reflect a change in Israeli policy towards the National Front.” According to Palmor, “[Prosor’s] arrival at the event was the result of a misunderstanding, and everything that occurred afterwards was the result of an unintended mistake in judgment.”

However, sources in the Foreign Ministry noted that it was a highly embarrassing incident. “By comparison, Congo’s Ambassador to the UN, who also came to the event, realized at the door what kind of event it was, and immediately turned around and left,” the sources said. “It was a serious error.”

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: שגריר ישראל באו"ם נפגש עם מנהיגת הימין בצרפת