update deskIsrael at War

Israel: Top EU diplomat legitimizes Hamas terror

Josep Borrell's remarks a "dangerous mix of ignorance, hostility and the legitimization of terrorism."

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell arrives at E.U. headquarters in Brussels for a summit, June 29, 2023. Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell arrives at E.U. headquarters in Brussels for a summit, June 29, 2023. Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday blasted comments by E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in which he panned Israel for rejecting Hamas’s proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Borrell’s remarks at a press briefing in Brussels on Tuesday were a “dangerous mix of ignorance, hostility and the legitimization of terrorism,” spokesperson Oren Marmorstein charged in a post on X.

Commenting on Israel’s military operation against Hamas in eastern Rafah, which started on Monday night, Borrell told reporters that “Hamas accepted, Israel rejected and the land offensive against Rafah has started again, in spite of all the requests of the international community.

“In spite of these warnings and these requests, the attack started yesterday night. I am afraid that this is going to cause again a lot of casualties, civilian casualties, whatever they say,” said Borrell.

On Wednesday, an E.U. spokesperson, speaking to The Wall Street Journal, downplayed Borrell’s remarks as a “side comment on a particular piece of information that was available at that particular time.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry noted on Tuesday that, “in the midst of the negotiations for the release of the 132 hostages and to achieve humanitarian relief,” the terrorist group chose to launch mortars towards the area of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, killing four Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

“The organization that fires at the humanitarian crossing in attempts to kill the deal for the release of the hostages and humanitarian relief is the Hamas terrorist organization,” tweeted Marmorstein, adding that “accepting Hamas’s media manipulations encourages terrorism.”

Israeli officials have described Hamas’s Monday night claim that it had accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by mediators as “an exercise by Hamas meant to present Israel as the refuser.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Tuesday that the hostages-for-ceasefire-and-terrorists-release deal proposed by Hamas, which Egypt and Qatar devised without consulting with Jerusalem, is “very far” from what Israel deems acceptable.

“Hamas’s proposal was intended to torpedo our forces’ entry into Rafah. It did not happen,” the premier stated in remarks shared by his office.

“Israel will not allow Hamas to restore its evil regime in the Gaza Strip, Israel will not allow it to restore its military capabilities and continue to seek our destruction. Israel cannot accept a proposal that endangers the security of our citizens and the future of our country,” he explained.

Netanyahu said he instructed negotiators in Cairo to “stand firm on the conditions needed for the release of our hostages, continue to stand firm on the essential requirements for guaranteeing Israel’s security.”

Ahead of a summit of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels in March, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on Borrell to stop bashing the Jewish state and recognize its right to defend itself.

According to Katz, “It’s time” for the E.U. diplomat to “stop attacking Israel and recognize our right to self-defense against Hamas’s crimes.”

In October, Borrell slammed Israel’s response to Hamas and appeared to call for a ceasefire, leading to criticism from European leaders.

In 2019, while serving as Spain’s foreign minister, Borrell admitted to participating in an antisemitic rally as a child, according to the El Confidencial website. Armed with noisemakers, the future diplomat joined in shouts of “Kill Jews” at a Holocaust memorial service.

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