Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday that Israel’s actions against Palestinians does not constitute ‘terrorism’, eliciting a range of angry responses.
Shoukry’s comments came during a Q&A session with students held at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, where he was asked why Palestinian children killed in the conflict with Israel were not considered victims of terrorism, Ynet reported.
“When looking at this issue, it can be defined as a ‘regime of force,’” the Egyptian media quoted Shoukry as saying.
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He continued on to defend Israeli violence, suggesting that from some perspectives, Israel’s strength in terms of security is a result of “dealing with a lot of challenges” which have threatened that security ever since the state was established in 1948.
Shoukry also told his students that as the international community has “yet to come to a consensus as to what constitutes terror”, Israel’s actions could not be described as ‘terrorism’.
Husam Badran, a Hamas spokesperson in Qatar, slammed the Egyptian foreign minister in a twitter post, saying, “He who does not see the crimes of the Zionist occupation as terrorism is blind.”
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Arab media also seized on Shoukry’s comments immediately, sparking angry headlines throughout the world. A London-based Arab newspaper ran the headline: “Samah Shoukry: the murder of Palestinian children by Israel isn’t terrorism.”
Last month Shoukry became the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel since 2007, in a visit that was unknown to the public until the last minute.
Shoukry’s comment contrast with an incident in March, when Egyptian MP Tawfik Okasha was voted out of parliament after he met with the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and called for normalizing ties with the Jewish state.
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An Israeli diplomatic official said the Egyptian government realizes that Israel is “not the enemy,” and is now more willing to say it publicly.
Last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the home of Egypt’s ambassador to Israel.
(PC & Agencies)