A French diplomat Fesneau Marion Castaing (actually carrying a temporary diplomatic passport from the French Consulate) attempts to prevent soldiers from executing an order of the Israel Supreme Court, refuses an order to leave her vehicle, strikes a Police officer and has to removed and subdued.
Does the Israeli government have the balls to declare her persona non grata and give her 48 hours to leave or face arrest?
Does the Israeli government have even bigger balls to demand France drop her immunity to face trial in Israel or in France?
When the story came out it was illustrated by the usual Destroy Israel Lobby media outlets, such as +972 Magazine with the closely cropped photograph. The accusation was not only did the Israelis manhandle a diplomat but pointed a rifle at her. I’m not sure why pointing a rifle makes the charge worse. Perhaps it is the photographic quality of the pose. It is not at all clear that she was thrown on the ground or whether she posed herself. She was not hurt.
Immediately questions were raised as to whether the soldier was pointing his weapon at the ‘helpless’ woman.
As the wider field photograph shows, he wasn’t. The photographer (perhaps the editor) had chosen the angle and perspective that made it look that way.
Technically the term is framing. As in, Israel has been framed, yet again.
The conventions provide immunity to persons according to their rank in a diplomatic mission or consular post and according to the need for immunity in performing their duties. For example, diplomatic agents and members of their immediate families are immune from all criminal prosecution and most civil law suits. Administrative and technical staff members of embassies have a lower level of immunity. Consular officers serving in consulates throughout the country have an even lower level of immunity. Members of an embassy’s service staff and consular employees are immune only for acts performed as part of their official duties†
It is also within the discretion of the host country to declare any member of the diplomatic staff of a mission persona non grata (or unwanted person). This may be done at any time and there is no obligation to explain such a decision. In these situations, the home country, as a rule, would recall the person or terminate his/her function with the mission.†
As much as the French love to lecture others, especially Israel, would the French be willing to declare that Castaing was by defying a court order and interfering in what is clearly an internal dispute that she was performing her consular duties?
We doubt it. That would transform what is an opportunity to score some points with the Arabs with some no-loss hypocrisy into a major diplomatic incident.
How would the French react is an Israeli consular official decided to join a protest, say for agricultural subsidies or immigration or even better to prevent a Roma (Gypsy) encampment being demolished?
Would they shrug their shoulders in Gallic fashion and say L’immunité diplomatique? Ne peut rien faire.
We doubt it.
- The 6 Most Ridiculous Abuses of Diplomatic Immunity, Evan V. Symon, Cracked, 30 December 2011
- Who is Marion Fesneau Castaing? A fundamentalist Christian, anti-abortion … That’s not a diplomat!, Helene Keller Lind, JSS News (French) 22 September, 2013
- EU calls on Israel to explain IDF ‘mistreatment’ of diplomats in West Bank, Tovah Lazaroff, REUTERS (Jerusalem Post), 22 September 2013
- Diplomatic Immunity, eDiplomat, accessed 22 September 2013
- The Untouchables: Is Diplomatic Immunity Going Too Far?, Readers Digest, accessed 22 September 2013
- What’s the story on diplomatic immunity? The Straight Dope, 1 November 2005
- BBC presents one-sided report of incident involving European diplomats, Hadar Sela, BBC Watch, 22 September 2013