France's Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal has been summoned for a reprimand by the Foreign Ministry over comments made by outgoing French ambassador to the United States, who said in an interview last week Israel was already an apartheid state.
In addition, all Israeli officials have been barred from meeting with Ambassador Gerard Araud, who no longer holds official title, and is scheduled to visit Israel in the coming days.
Officials in the French Embassy in Tel Aviv said it was "odd on Israel's part to chide a country for a diplomat who's already retired."
Israel's Channel 12 News recently reported that France protested Israel's freeze of tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
In an official statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Paris' request to reverse the freeze, calling it "diplomatically and morally wrong."
"It goes against European countries' principles for fighting terror," Netanyahu said. "Israel will carry on in accordance with its policy and by the laws set by the Knesset.
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Araud, who ended a five-year tenure in Washington, told the Atlantic in an interview published Friday that Israel is hesitating to make "the painful decision about the Palestinians" – to leave them "totally stateless or make them citizens of Israel."
He concludes, "They [Israel] won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already."