Israeli Embassy's reply to De Rossa and Martin

Reply to Foreign Minister Martin's statement 21 December 2009 :

Contrary to the Minister's statement, Israel has no policy of 'punishment' of the people of Gaza.

Israel has facilitated the entry of, and increased the quantities of, food, medicine and humanitarian supplies to Gaza since the end of its military operation in January last.

There is no lack of information about the situation in Gaza, as there is a large and permanent UN mission there which reports routinely to the UN Secretary-General.

However, Israel's first responsibility is to the safety of its own southern citizens who for twelve years were terrorised by Hamas rocket and mortar fire and who would once again be in the line of fire if Hamas were allowed to rebuild its arsenal.

Hamas uses every opportunity to reconstruct the tunnels it uses to smuggle missiles and other weapons supplied by Iran.

Only last week Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas regime in Gaza, reiterated Hamas' commitment to a Palestinian state stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river. As long as Hamas remains in control of Gaza, as long as it maintains its commitment to terrorism and to the elimination of Israel enshrined in its Charter, restrictions on the entry of certain construction materials must remain.

With regard to Proinsias De Rossa's comments on 'apartheid' etc:

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is not a racial one, but, in fact, a national-territorial conflict between two distinct peoples.

Israel does not wish to rule the Palestinians and accepts in principle the establishment of a Palestinian state, provided that it not be a terrorist state and that it exists in peace alongside Israel.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are not citizens of Israel. But Israeli Arabs in Israel itself are citizens of Israel, and under Israeli law they have equal rights with Israeli Jews, Christians, Druze etc. Israeli Arabs have political parties, serve in the Parliament, the Supreme Court and the IDF. Israel is the only country in the Middle East which is a pluralist democracy and where its citizens have equal rights regardless of gender, race or religion. This is scarcely 'apartheid.'