Tuesday

28th Feb 2017

Ashton faces wrath of Israel over Toulouse-Gaza remark

  • Lieberman: 'Israel is the most moral country in the world' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Just about every top politician in Israel has in the past 24 hours attacked EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for remarks about killing of Jewish and Palestinian children.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: "I was especially upset about the comparison between the intentional slaughter of children and the IDF's [Israeli army's] surgical defensive strikes."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman: "The children Ashton needs to focus on are the children of south Israel, who live in constant fear of Gaza rocket attacks." He added: "Israel is the most moral country in the world."

An MP, Danny Danon, called her "anti-Semitic." MP Einat Wilf said she "isn't worthy of representing the European Union."

What Ashton said, at a UN conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels on Monday (19 March), was: "When we remember what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened when I was in Norway last week, a year ago. When we know what's happening in Syria, when we see what's happened in Gaza and Sderot, in different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives."

Reacting to the criticism, Ashton told MEPs at a hearing in the EU parliament on Tuesday: "I am really saddened at the distortion of my remarks ... I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East."

EU damage-control was not helped by its handling of the official transcript of her UN comments.

The first online version made no mention of the Gaza-rocket-pounded Israeli town of Sderot, indicating that her original intention was to make no allusion to Palestinian culpability. But a second version added Sderot when the Israeli reactions began to come out.

Meanwhile, in breaking news on Wednesday morning, police laid siege to a house in Toulouse, France containing the suspected Jewish school killer, who also shot dead two French soldiers last week.

French interior minister Claude Gueant said he has confessed and that he did it because of Israeli killing of Palestinian children: "He wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions."

He said the suspect is a 24-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent who visited Afghanistan and Pakistan and who claims to be Al-Qaeda.

The Ashton backlash comes after a series of leaked internal EU reports accused Israel of stealing Palestinian land and water, trampling on the rights of Arab-Israeli citizens and giving settlers free rein to assault Palestinians.

Israeli diplomats often grumble that Ashton is pro-Palestinian. But they warmed to her went she went against Palestine's bid to become a UN member last year.

An EU diplomat earlier told this website that Ashton's visit to Gaza in 2010 - where she saw first hand the squalid living conditions and fear of Israel - was "a life-changing experience" for the British politician.

EU countries confront Israel on latest land-grab

The four EU countries on the United Nations Security Council have used unusually strong words to criticise Israel's latest expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen party in new EU fraud allegations
  2. May to end rights of EU nationals after Article 50 triggered
  3. Nato warns against Armenia-Azerbaijan 'escalation'
  4. EU: No military solution to Nagorno-Karabakh war
  5. EU adopts visa-free brake mechanism
  6. Trump and Brexit drew on same resources
  7. Romanian protestors form EU flag at anti-government rally
  8. Over 3,500 attacks on refugees in Germany: report

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  4. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  6. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  7. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  8. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  9. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  10. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen