Mofaz: Maintained diplomacy
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Bielski. Appealed to the heart
Members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were assaulted by a French senator Tuesday while meeting with a number of senators in Paris. Among other things, she called the MKs "colonialists".
The meeting Monday was friendly until the outburst. MK Shaul Mofaz, who heads the committee, commended President Nicolas Sarkozy for his support of Israel and expressed hope that France would not support the Palestinian statehood bid in September.
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Then the MKs received a few minutes each to give speeches, many of which focused on Palestinian issues and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
But when French Senator Monique Cerisier Ben Guiga took the stand, later on, she expressed harsh criticism against Israel. She claimed the state was practicing "colonialism" and preventing Gazans from leading normal lives.
Finally, she criticized the decision to impair the prison conditions of Palestinian prisoners, and added a personal tale about witnessing settler violence towards Palestinians while on a visit to Hebron.
MK Shaul Mofaz, in his response to the senator, said he would attempt "not to answer in the same manner in which you are speaking" and to maintain the codes of diplomacy.
Other MKs tried to appeal to Ben Guiga's humanity. MK Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima) asked if she was a mother, and if she could try to understand the suffering of Aviva Shalit. MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) tried to explain the difficulties experienced by the children of Qassam-plagued communities in the south.
These efforts, however, were to no avail. "It was a tense meeting," said Bielski. "The madam complained about Israel in a number of fields and compared Gilad Shalit to the Palestinian prisoners."
MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) said Ben Guiga had attacked Israel's policies. "I asked her if she even recognizes us as a state," he said. "Of course, she didn't answer."
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