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Sharon: EU inaction against anti-Semitism threatens Jews

24th November 2003

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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accused the EU of inaction against rising anti-Semitism and alleged Muslims in Europe pose a threat to the lives of Jews, in an interview released today.

Sharon also told EUpolitix.com that new Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei was a "polished politician" but that he would judge him by his actions in clamping down on militants.

The European Union's approach to the Middle East "is not balanced right now", the Israeli leader was quoted as saying by the website.

"The state of Israel cannot afford to deposit its destiny in the hands of the Europeans who are known for their unbalanced policy," he said.

Sharon highlighted an opinion poll of 7 500 people in the EU's 15 member states this month that suggested Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to world peace - ahead of North Korea, Iran and the US.

"I would say, in my opinion, EU governments are not doing enough to tackle anti-semitism," he said, while singling out Italy - which holds the EU's rotating presidency - for taking a "more balanced position" on the peace process.

Sharon last week paid a three-day visit to Italy, which under Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has much warmer relations with Israel than does the European Union as a whole.

During annual EU-Israel talks in Brussels last week attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, differences between the two sides were on clear display.

Shalom said that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was a terrorist who should be sidelined, while the EU condemned Israel's construction of a security barrier along the West Bank.

In his EUpolitix.com interview, Sharon insisted that disapproval of Israel in Europe was the same as hatred of Jews.

"You cannot separate here; Israel is treated as a Jewish state," Sharon said.

"This anti-semitism exists (in Europe) and what pushes it is a collective anti-semitism that incorporates Israel into this equation".

He added: "An ever stronger Muslim presence in Europe is certainly endangering the life of Jewish people. This attempt of dismissing our legitimacy to self-defence is testimony to anti-semitism.

"Of course the sheer fact that there are a huge amount of Muslims, 70-million in the EU, this issue has also turned into a political matter".

According to Saturday's Financial Times, the EU's racism watchdog has refused to publish a report on anti-semitism that said Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many attacks on Jewish sites.

Last week a Jewish school building near Paris was the target of an apparent arson attack.

Sharon meanwhile described Qorei as "a seasoned man, a polished politician".

"I value him as a man who believes that the end to the conflict is not via war, and I will be happy to negotiate with him," he said.

But the Israeli leader added that Qorei "will not be judged by his declarations or statements, but clearly by the steps he will take to end the Palestinian terror".

"As long as the terror continues there will be no progress towards the fulfilment of the Palestinian state". – Sapa-AFP.
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