JERUSALEM - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday blasted European efforts to seek a halt to the Gaza conflict insisting that Israel was not worried about its international image, his office said.
"Europe must open its eyes. We are not in the business of public relations or improving our image. We are fighting against terror, and we have every right to defend our citizens," the Nobel Peace Prize winning leader told an EU ministerial delegation.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner told Peres that "Israel's image is being destroyed" because of its refusal to listen to international ceasefire appeals, the president's office said in a statement.
The EU delegation followed French President Nicolas Sarkozy in appealing to Peres and other Israeli leaders for a ceasefire in the conflict which has left more than 580 Palestinian dead.
Peres held talks with Ferraro-Waldner, Czech Foreign Minister Karl Schwarzenberg and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
Ferraro-Waldner was quoted as saying that every nation has the right to defend itself, but that Israel's actions in Gaza were disproportionate.
"We have met with the heads of international humanitarian organizations and delegations, and we were told that there is a serious problem in Gaza of distributing the delegations' shipments," she said according to the statement from Peres's office.
"We have come to Israel in order to advance the initiative for a humanitarian ceasefire and I will tell you, Mr. President, that you have a serious problem with international advocacy, and that Israel's image is being destroyed," the EU official added.