Thursday

8th Dec 2022

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  2. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  3. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  4. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  5. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  6. Autocrats make us all less secure
  7. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  8. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us