Liberman to Ashton: Take responsibility for preventing arms smuggling into Gaza, and we will remove the blockade.

 FM Liberman meets with EU High Rep Ashton and US Homeland Security Sec Napolitano


FM Liberman with EU High Rep Ashton (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman met (January 5) with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Catherine Ashton, to discuss the political process between Israel and the Palestinians and the situation in Gaza.

FM Liberman told Baroness Ashton that the announcement by the foreign ministers of the European Union, which was made several weeks ago, shows that instead of handling the root of the problem itself, the European foreign ministers are only dealing with the symptoms.

"The root of the problem that brought the Olmert administration to impose the blockade on Gaza in 2007 is the unceasing smuggling of arms into Gaza below the Philadelphi Corridor and the Rafah crossing, which are fueling terrorist activities against Israel, and which have enabled the launching of more than 11,000 missiles from Gaza into the towns of southern Israel. If you want us to remove the blockade from Garza, you must take responsibility and establish a strong, genuine and effective force that will prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza," FM Liberman said. He continued, "I can promise you that the moment the arms smuggling into Gaza stops, the blockade will also be lifted. Cooperation between Israel and the European Union can lead to a genuine change in the situation: cessation of the smuggling and terrorism against Israel, removal of the blockade and maybe even the release of Gilad Shalit. But, to that end, the European Union must understand that the problem is the terrorist attacks from Gaza, and not the blockade that was designed to prevent them."

Previously (January 4), FM Liberman met with US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. In the meeting, FM Liberman said that Western democratic society is now facing a great challenge in the fight against growing extremism by radical Islamic entities. FM Liberman told Secretary Napolitano that, aside from contending with the matter technically by placing obstacles before the terrorists, there is an urgent need for rethinking and creating a system of values to contend with the problem. The gravity of the problem can be seen by the fact that young people born in Muslim communities in Europe are joining the most radical elements.

FM Liberman also asked Secretary Napolitano to examine the possibility of outlawing the IHH organization in the US.