Israel to Ashton: Retract Toulouse-Gaza comparison

EU foreign policy chief related shooting of French Jews in Toulouse to "what is happening in Gaza"; Ban condemns attack.

Liberman and China's Vice President Xi Jinping 370 (photo credit: Azriel Shnitzer)
Liberman and China's Vice President Xi Jinping 370
(photo credit: Azriel Shnitzer)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni each criticized EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday for relating the murder of French Jews in Toulouse with "what is happening in Gaza."
Speaking during a visit to China, Liberman said that the comparison was inappropriate and that he hopes that she retracts her statement. The children Ashton should be talking about, he continued, "are the ones in southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks [launched against] them from Gaza."
Ashton told a group of Palestinian youth in Brussels on Monday: "When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places - we remember young people and children who lose their lives," AFP reported.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak harshly condemned the statement, calling it "outrageous and far from reality."
"The IDF operates with maximum caution in Gaza in order to prevent harm to innocents," Barak said. "I hope that the EU's foreign minister will quickly realize the mistake she made and withdraw her comments."
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also called on Ashton to retract the statement, which she called "unacceptable, outrageous and wrong."
"There is no similarity between an act of hatred or a leader killing members of his nation and a country fighting terror, even if civilians are harmed," Livni added. Ashton's statement came after a gunman opened fire at a crowd of parents and children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France on Monday, killing four people.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai also denounced Ashton's statement Tuesday and called for her resignation.
"The statement by Lady Ashton further harms the ability of the European Union to be an honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians, Yishai said.
"[Ashton] can no longer serve in her position," the interior minister added.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.