Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a stout ally of Tel Aviv, believes the victims of Israel’s Gaza war deserve the same empathy as that given to the victims of the Holocaust, The Financial Times reported on Thursday, February 4.
"Whenever war takes the place of peace, whenever violence takes the place of reason, humanity disappears," Berlusconi told a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
"So just as it’s right to cry for the victims of the Shoah, it’s right to show pain for what happened in Gaza," he stressed, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
At least 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and thousands injured in three weeks of Israeli air, land and sea attacks on the sealed off Gaza Strip.
The onslaught also wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated coastal enclave, leaving some 20,000 homes and thousands other buildings in ruins.
A UN fact-finding committee headed by world-renowned judge Richard Goldstone, a Jew, had accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza war.
William I. Robinson, a UC Santa Barbara university Sociology professor for nine years, had comparing the images of children killed in the Gaza war to the Holocaust.
Robinson, a Jew, sent an e-mail to 80 of his students including 25 images of Jewish victims of Nazis and similar images taken from Gaza after the Israeli onslaught.
Berlusconi supported freezing Jewish settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories as pre-condition for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"In my conversation with the Palestinian president we made it clear that we understand the need to stop expanding settlements," he said.
"I discussed the issue with Israel’s leaders as well and told them that stopping the settlements is a condition for resuming the negotiations."
President Abbas links the resumption of stalled peace negotiations with Israel to its commitment to freeze settlement expansions in the occupied West Bank and Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
Israel has decided a temporal freeze on new settlement expansion in the West Bank, unless plans previously approved, but refused to apply the same to the holy city of Al-Quds.
There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied territory.
The international community considers all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.
Berlusconi did not rule out recognizing an independent Palestinian state if unilaterally declared by Palestinians within the 1967 borders.
"As far as we are concerned, this is a logical possibility, but we cannot get into the details of the agreements that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides must reach."
(IslamOnline.net & Newspapers)