European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton drew strong criticism from Israel yesterday after she appeared to compare the Toulouse shooting earlier in the day to the deaths of young people in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at conference entitled “Palestine Refugees in the changing Middle East” in Brussels, Ashton said: “… we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on an official visit to China, said the comments were “inappropriate and I hope that Ashton reexamines and retracts them.”
Also responding to the comments this morning, Kadima chairperson and opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that Ashton’s comparison “between the murder of children in Toulouse and the massacre [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is leading in Syria, and the situation in Gaza is reprehensible, infuriating, and wrong.”
“A hate crime or a leader murdering his people is not like a country fighting terror, even if civilians are hurt,” Livni said, adding that Ashton’s comment “represents the misconception in the world concerning the State of Israel and the current leadership’s inability to create the appropriate moral distinction.”