Latvian FM criticizes Israel’s use of force in Gaza, affirms right to self-defense

Edgars Rinkēvičs criticized Israel’s use of lethal force during the Gaza riots.

By: World Israel News Staff

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs condemned Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force in Gaza, while supporting its right to defend itself.

“We believe that non-lethal use of force by police protecting borders in democracies is the most preferred matter. We have seen attempts to instigate protests in a way that is unacceptable to us,” he said.

“We are not justifying what Hamas is doing,” he said, and Israel has a “legitimate right” to defend itself, though it must do so with “proportional use of force, especially against children and women.”

“We are not taking sides, one or the other,” said Rinkēvičs. “We are trying to be as helpful as possible, because we understand arguments from both sides.”

‘Okay, what would you do?’

How would Latvia respond if 40,000 people were on its border, “wanting to come in, and saying they want to kill you?” he was asked.

“Well, I would say that we would be doing our best to protect our borders, and doing our best to push back as much as we can,” he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “We would advise the police force not to use guns.”

Responding to demands by critics for a deployment of “non-lethal” force, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged them to find non-lethal ways to deal with violent rioters, and he will be the first to use it.

The US must lead Israeli-Palestinian talks

Rinkēvičs, who met with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah on Thursday, dismissed the Palestinian demand that the European Union (EU) take over the lead in the peace process.

“Let’s be realistic, no peace process can be achieved without the US being an active partner. The EU cannot stop it, it can facilitate,” he said.

“The EU has its role,” he said, “but we are not going to say that this type of situation – without talks, and with one party all the time rejecting all the proposals – is going to last. I can’t support that.”

The Palestinians have been boycotting Washington since December when Trump announced that the US officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel capital, and they have since escalated their rhetoric and actions against the US.