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Europe

French Foreign Minister Fabius blames Iran for Gaza conflict

media Fires in Gaza overnight Reuters/Mohammed Salem

Iran has an “extremely heavy responsibility” for the conflict in Gaza, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday after a night in which Israeli bombardment of the strip continued and Gazan armed groups fired rockets into Israel.

“What’s new is that now there are long-range arms, longer-range up to 75 kilometres […] and these are Iranian arms,” Fabius told France Culture radio. “Iranian responsibility is extremely heavy in all this.”

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Fabius went on to criticise Iran for its “extremely negative” involvement in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza, adding “and then there is the big question of nuclear Iran before us”, in a reference to Western accusations that Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon continued to meet both sides to try and arrange a ceasefire, Israel said that it fired at over 100 “terrorist sites” in Gaza overnight and that 19 rockets were fired from the strip.

In the week since the Israeli offensive started 135 Palestinians are reported to have been killed and about 1,000 wounded. Five Israelis, one of them a soldier, have died due to rocket fire from Gaza.

Fabius also denied that Paris is breaking the European embargo on arms to Syria.

France was the first Western power to recognise the Syrian National Coalition, followed by the UK on Tuesday, and has called for the European Union to provide “defensive weapons” to the Syrian rebels.

European foreign ministers discussed the question at a meeting in Brussels on Monday and decided to invite a coalition representative to their next meeting in December.

Fabius hailed a “clear development” in European attitudes to the Syrian conflict.
 

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