Ashton’s speech corrected by EU after Israeli anger
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Hundreds of Jewish mourners thronged around the bodies laid out on stretchers. AFP photoThe European Union issued March 20 a corrected version of a speech by its foreign policy chief which had angered Israel because it appeared to link a French school shooting and Gaza.
The new transcript of Catherine Ashton’s remarks mentions the situation of children in both Gaza and the southern Israeli town of Sderot after the first version only mentioned the Palestinian territory.A video of her speech March 19 showed she indeed mentioned Sderot, a town often hit by Palestinian rocket attacks. After a day filled with criticism from Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ashton denied that she ever compared the shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the situation in the Middle East.
In her speech at a youth event, Ashton paid tribute to children killed in “terrible circumstances” and listed a number of tragedies including unrest in Syria, last year’s Norway massacre and the Toulouse shooting. The new text was released after a day of damage control, with her spokesman Michael Mann insisting her remarks were “grossly distorted,” although he had not indicated at the time that she had talked about Sderot too.