Although yesterday's vote on the Gaza plan by the Likud could prove momentous in Israel's history, I found myself far more affected by the horrific personal tragedy that befell the Hatuel family on the way to the polling station. Tali Hatuel, who was 8 months pregnant, together with her 4 daughters, aged 2, 7, 9 and 11, were murdered by terrorists who first stopped the car and then shot it up to make sure that there were no survivors.
Should the family have been there in the first place? It's immaterial and petty to even ask. There are times when personal politics must be put to one side. I don't believe that anyone can even begin to understand the pain and grief that their husband and father, who they were travelling to meet in Ashkelon, must be feeling.
For the last 3 1/2 years, Israel has been fighting a war against terrorism of the most despicable kind. A society that sends its youth to kill and maim and that rejoices in the murder of a pregnant mother and her children, is one that has lost contact with any recognisable human values. We find ourselves with the difficult but imperative task of coming to an arrangement which will allow us to live side by side with those who deny our right to existence.
The hatred that has been sown must be tackled at its roots by reforming a system of education that systemically demonizes Israel as well as the US. To think that the PA will voluntarily undertake this reform is to ignore the fact that despite promises made at Oslo, they have not yet done so. A trustworthy partner, with some control on the purse strings is needed in order to assist in carrying out a change which is acceptable to both sides. With so much distrust for tthe USA amongst Arabs of all stripe, I believe that it is time for the European Union to step up and bear the responsibility of which it seems to believe itself worthy. The EU has found itself accused of (albeit unwittingly) funding terrorism, by making transfers of funds to the PA. It must make any future assistance dependent on full transparency with the use of every Euro audited to make sure that it is being used for the cause of advancing the region as a whole rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence.
Empty words of condemnation are no longer enough. It is time for Europe to stand up and be counted as a force for good in the region. The gauntlet has been laid down....