Netanyahu meets Gabriel after ‘excellent’ meeting with Merkel
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday, 10 months after the cancellation of a meeting between the two over the visiting minister’s refusal to snub Israeli rights organisations.
In brief statements in front of the media, Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Gabriel, saying it’s always an opportunity to speak with representatives of the German government. He noted that he had an excellent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his recent trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The prime minister said that he and Gabriel discussed stabilising the Middle East, a task made more difficult over Iran’s actions in Syria and Lebanon, as well as the renewal of the peace process with the Palestinians. Gabriel said that Israel can always count on Germany to maintain its security.
He noted that while Israel and Germany share disagreements about whether or not to maintain the Iran nuclear deal, they were in agreement over Iran’s actions in Syria, as well as the situation along Israel’s northern borders and the threat posed by ISIS.
Gabriel noted that Germany was still very much in favour of the two-state solution, adding that he was happy to hear that Israel also wants two states, but with secure borders. “I rather not discuss labels. We will control security… That is the first condition to whether or not it’s defined as a state,” Netanyahu replied.
He said that Germany would talk to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and would try to return to the negotiating table with the US and see how they would be able to contribute. In April 2017, Netanyahu canceled a scheduled meeting with Gabriel after the latter refused the demand that he should not meet with two Israeli left-wing NGOs.
Netanyahu asked to speak with Gabriel on the phone at the time, but the German minister refused to take his call. Netanyahu said that he wanted to speak with Gabriel to personally explain why he had reservations regarding the latter’s meeting with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem and why he opted not to meet with him.
Der Spiegel wrote the meeting was canceled by Netanyahu because the German minister wanted to meet with critics of the Israeli government. Gabriel told ZDF TV network at the time that his planned meetings with representatives of the two NGOs were totally normal. “You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries,” he said.