French Diplomat Who Tussled With Border Police to Leave Her Post

Israel mulled declaring Marion Fesneau-Castaing persona non-grata, but decided to deal with the issue while preserving relations with France, FM source says.

A French diplomat who clashed with Border Police last week in the West Bank will leave her post at the end of December, following an agreement between Israel and France.

Marion Fesneau-Castaing was filmed as she pushed a border policeman. The incident occurred last week, when several European diplomats and activists were trying to help Palestinians erect tents in the village of Khirbet Makhoul, where Israeli authorities had demolished illegally built homes earlier in the week.

Fesneau-Castaing is the cultural attaché for the French Consulate in Jerusalem. While the French Embassy in Tel Aviv is responsible for ties with Israel, the Jerusalem consulate is responsible for relations with the Palestinian Authority.

Jerusalem decribed the diplomat's behavior as inappropriate and a "blatant violation of diplomatic codes of conduct." 

A Foreign Ministry source said the decision that Fesneau-Castaing will step down from her post was made jointly by the Israeli and French governments. "We decided to deal with the issue while preserving Israel's relations with France," a Foreign Ministry source said. "This is a specific episode that does not characterize relations between the two countries."

In the wake of the incident, Israel considered declaring her persona non-grata, and banishing her from the country. The Israeli army, Israel Police and the Foreign Ministry agreed it was important to respond firmly and sternly to the incident.

After carrying out legal checks and making contact with France's embassy, it was decided not to make the declaration, but instead to come to an agreement in which the French Foreign Ministry would remove her from her post.

Intensive talks between Israel's Foreign Ministry and the French ambassador over the past week resulted in the agreement that she will leave her job at the end of 2013. The deadline was agreed on to give her time to resolve some personal issues.