Gauche Gaffe Causes French Brass to Shun Israel Independence Day

The Israeli Embassy’s Independence Day reception was snubbed last week by French officials, apparently because the new Israeli envoy committed what the host government considered a breach of protocol.

No senior member of the French government showed up, nor did anyone from the opposition.

Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, who replaced eight-year veteran Ambassador Ovadia Soffer, apparently got off on the wrong foot.

Lancry arrived in Paris in February but still has not been able to present his credentials to President Francois Mitterrand. That is because French protocol requires that at least five newly appointed envoys must be on hand before they are introduced to the president, an Israeli official explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The convergence of new ambassadors had not materialized and the embassy meanwhile had to send out its Yom Ha’atzmaut invitations, which were signed by “Ambassador of Israel Y. Lancry and Mrs. Lancry.”

The French Foreign Ministry was horrified and promptly telephoned the embassy. “How could Mr. Lancry invite French officials before he even has an official existence?” the Israelis were asked.

At the celebration on May 7, it was the charges d’affaires, Yitzhak Eldan, who was official host, shaking hands with the guests while Lancry hovered in the background, behind an Israeli flag.

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