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EU’s Ashton Sees ‘Distortion’ of Remarks on Toulouse Killings

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said a “distortion” is at the root of Israeli criticism of her reaction to yesterday’s killing of four people outside a Jewish school in southern France.

“I’m really saddened of the distortion of my remarks,” Ashton told a European Parliament committee in Brussels today. “I condemn unreservedly the terrible murders. I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Ashton faced Israeli rebukes today for a speech in which she listed the French school shooting along with “what is happening in Gaza,” last week’s bus crash in Switzerland and the 2011 mass murder at a Norwegian youth outing as examples of tragedies involving children.

Seizing on the Gaza reference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ashton compared “the premeditated slaughter of children to the defensive surgical activities of the Israel Defense Forces aimed at hitting terrorists who use children as shields.”

EU aides have since posted an updated version of yesterday’s speech on Ashton’s website that adds a reference to Palestinian rocket attacks on the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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