Egypt's: Minister's comments were 'twisted'

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry says media twisted Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry's comments on killing of Palestinian Arab children.

Elad Benari ,

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on Monday evening said the media had twisted comments by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry into implying that the killing of Palestinian Arab children did not constitute terror.

“Anybody who has ears can check the video of the meeting with the high school students that is available on the Facebook page of the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry and be sure that the question posed by the children had no connection whatsoever to the murder of innocent Palestinians,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth.

“The question was a theoretical and general one regarding the reason that the international community does not define Israeli actions against Palestinians as terror. The minister answered that there is no international consensus on the specific legal definition of terror and that there is an international debate regarding the distinction between legal meanings and state meanings of the term ‘terror,’” he added.

The statement came after Shoukry was asked while speaking with Egyptian high school students why the Egyptian government doesn't define Israeli and American actions in the Middle East as terrorism.

Shoukry replied by stating that Israel's policies toward Palestinian Arabs don't amount to "terrorism."

“There is no conclusive [proof] leading to that conclusion,” he said.

“You can look at it from the perspective of a regime of force, but [looked at from a more traditional understanding] there is no evidence showing a link between Israel and armed terrorist groups,” Shoukry told students visiting the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Cairo.

The comments made waves all over Egyptian and Arabic media, noted Yedioth Ahronoth, with the London based Al-Arabi Al-Jadida writing in its headline "Sameh Shoukry: the murder of Palestinian children by Israel isn't terrorism."

Hamas blasted the comments as well, with its spokesman Husam Badran tweeting, “Anyone who doesn’t see the crimes of the Zionist occupation as terrorism is blind.”

Shoukry’s comments, whether they were distorted or not, come weeks after he visited Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Egypt has also been at the forefront of attempts to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi recently urged Israelis and Palestinian Arabs to seize what he said was a "real opportunity" for peace and hailed his own country's peace deal with Israel.

On Sunday, he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to host direct talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas.