Michael Oren, French Ambassador to Israel Engage in Twitter War

The Kulanu lawmaker and former Israeli envoy to the U.S. lashes out at France for regulations to label products from West Bank settlements, drawing return fire from French envoy Helene Le Gal.

French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal and Kulanu MK Michael Oren.
French Embassy to Israel, Ofer Vaknin

An unusual Twitter war broke out Sunday night, pitting Israel against France after Israeli MK, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office and former U.S. ambassador Michael Oren suggested in a tweet that Israelis boycott French goods.

"France is labeling products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan," wrote Oren in reference to new regulations in France that require importers and retailers to label products made in West Bank settlements. "Israelis should think twice before buying French products."

France's recently-appointed ambassador to Israel, Helene Le Gal, replied with a tweet of her own, reminding Oren that the boycott of Israeli products is a criminal offense in France.

"So you are calling for boycotting French products when in France boycotting Israel is punished by law?" Le Gal wrote in response.

Public criticisms between foreign ambassadors and Israeli politicians are relatively rare. Le Gal's fellow ambassador, Gerard Araud, who represents France in the U.S., partook in several clashes on Twitter with various American officials.

The French government published its new regulations last Thursday, specifically stating that "the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are occupied territories and not considered part of the State of Israel."

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Under the new regulations, if a product comes from a settlement, French retailers and importers must make this clear on the packaging and not just name the geographical location where the product originated.

The regulations make it clear that this is intended to prevent a situation in which consumers are misled and think they are buying Palestinian goods from the West Bank or East Jerusalem.