Israeli UN envoy: 'Don't even speak about peace at this moment'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Monday December 29, 2008

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As Israel bombed Gaza for a third day, Palestinian moderate and long-time peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi stated that she does not accept Israel's argument that it is acting in self-defense and believes the bombing was planned ahead of time with an eye toward February's elections.

At the same time, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations told CNN, "Don't even speak about peace at this moment" and insisted that Hamas alone is responsible for the suffering of the people of Gaza.

"Israel is an occupying power," Ashwari angrily told CNN's John Roberts on Monday. "In Gaza, they've been under siege for months now, deprived of the most basic needs. ... And now Israel has decided that if the victims do not lie down and die quietly, it's going to shell them relentlessly from the air."

"Israel is playing politics with captive Palestinian lives," continued Ashwari. "In the middle of an elections campaign, they get their conventions by how many Palestinians they can kill. ... We see only a human tragedy ... and we see the Israeli parties playing politics with our lives. "

According to Time, the campaign against Hamas "is benefiting two of the leading candidates for the premiership in the upcoming Israeli election scheduled for early February. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were trailing in the polls behind their hawkish Likud rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. But the aerial assault against Hamas has given a lift to Barak and Livni, at Netanyahu's expense."

"This has been pre-meditated," Ashwari concluded. "This has been in the making for some time, waiting for an occasion. ... Unfortunately, Israel continues to be treated as a country above the law and exempt from any kind of accountability."

CNN"s Kiran Chetny later spoke with Israeli Ambassador to the United Natioons Gabriela Shalev, who told her, "The hope is that Hamas will understand finally that Israel has the right to defend itself and the duty to protect its citizens."

"How do you get to peace when there's still so much anger?" Chetry asked.

"Don't even speak about peace at this moment," Shalev replied. "To deal with Hamas ... we have to make them understand that they must stop shooting rockets at Israel."

"The people in Gaza suffer because of Hamas," Shalev insisted. "Hamas made them hostage. ... We're very sorry about the suffering ... but this is the fate of the people of Gaza because of Hamas. ... Hamas is a terrorist gang, and it should stop its intention to destroy and wipe Israel off the map."

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Dec. 29, 2008.

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