Photo by: GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today, Friday, 13 October 2023, with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at the Kirya in Tel Aviv. The following is the Prime Minister’s statement:

Prime Minister Netanyahu:
“Thank you, Ursula. I appreciate the expression of support that you gave now and in the recent days and the fact that so many European countries have stood with us shoulder to shoulder.

These are not merely acts of war, these are war crimes. What Hamas has done is to perpetrate the worst war crimes since the Holocaust: the burning of people alive, cramming young people into a room, bringing spare tires from cars so there is more flames, burning them alive. This is the Holocaust methods.

Shooting babies, bound children, shooting them in the face, killing children in front of their parents, killing parents in front of their children, the rape and murder of women, the kidnapping of old people, young people, families, carrying them away. You saw the picture of that little boy. Pushed. Beaten. It reminds us of the pictures from the worst periods of the Holocaust.

If Hamas could have its way, it would do to us exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews, they would kill every last one of us, they would mutilate our bodies, they would behead us and that’s what they did. And therefore, it’s important to understand that Hamas perpetrated the worst war crimes since World War II.

And Hamas is ISIS in some respects. As President Biden said, they’re worse than ISIS. And so they have to be treated the way ISIS was treated. The international community, banded together, to eradicate this horrible scourge. And I appreciate the fact that the international community and Europe is standing behind Israel so that we can eradicate this scourge. We are doing so, I think in the front line of civilization. This is the front line of civilization between barbarism. And we have to ensure that nobody meets with the barbarians.

There are not diplomatic relations with ISIS, there are not diplomatic relations with Al Qaeda after 9/11 and there is no harboring, states that harbor Hamas representation or harboring ISIS or Al Qaeda. That’s unthinkable. There should be a concrete position of the international community to apply sanctions on countries that do so. If we stand united, then civilization will win.

Israel appreciates the support that you are giving us in these trying times and I’m sure we’ll have other ideas that we’ll talk about in our meeting. Thank you, Ursula”.

Participating in the meeting were the Strategic Affairs Minister, the Head of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Adviser, and the Israeli Ambassador to the European Union.

Statement by President von der Leyen with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Prime Minister,

I was today in Kfar Azza. What I saw and what I heard is breaking my heart. The blood of people killed in their sleep. The stories of innocents burned alive or slaughtered in their homes. The parents hiding their newborn babies before confronting the terrorists. Children and elderly people ripped from their families and taken hostage, even Holocaust survivors. Over 1,300 human beings were murdered by barbaric terrorists of Hamas fighting against Israel.

They aim to eradicate Jewish life from the land, and they took action. This is the most heinous assault against Jews since the Holocaust. We thought this could never happen again, yet it did. In the face of this unspeakable tragedy, there is only one possible response: Europe stands with Israel. And Israel has a right to defend itself. In fact, it has the duty to defend its people. And we must call by their name the atrocities committed by Hamas. This is terrorism. This is an act of war. Nothing can justify what Hamas did. This is the time to stand in solidarity with Israel and its people. And this is why I am here.

Let me also be very clear that Hamas alone is responsible for what is happening. Hamas’ acts have nothing to do with the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, the horror that Hamas has unleashed is only bringing more suffering upon innocent Palestinians. They are threatened, too. Hamas’ despicable actions are the hallmark of terrorists. And I know that how Israel responds will show that it is a democracy.

In recent days, I have also been in contact with King Abdullah of Jordan and President El-Sisi of Egypt. Europe will keep working for a peaceful and integrated Middle East. We know that Hamas’ actions risk to affect the historic rapprochement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. And we should observe very closely those who stand to gain from a perpetuating conflict in the Middle East, like Iran and Russia. So now is the time to work even more closely with Israel and with countries in the region for stability and against terror.

Finally, Jewish communities across the world are also deeply affected, including in Europe. Antisemitic incidents are again on the rise. And this is unacceptable. We are deeply concerned by the spread of online hate speech and fake news, which are proliferating at worrying speed and are even difficult to keep track of. We are already in contact with social media platforms to remind them of their obligations. There is no place and zero tolerance for hate in Europe, both online and offline, against anyone. Over the past years, the European Union has put the fight against anti-Semitism and the fostering of Jewish life in Europe at the heart of our action like never before. This is the moment for all of us to stand together.