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Steinmeier: Secure a lasting ceasefire following the Gaza conflict

16.11.2014

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement before talking to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on 16 November:

We are seeing a renewed escalation here in the Middle East. But for that very reason I believe it is good that we are meeting here in Jerusalem to discuss the current situation. Please also regard this visit, my visit here today, as an expression of the special friendship which links our two countries. Let me say this straight away: of course I understand that people here in Jerusalem and elsewhere are worried by the events of recent days. As I learnt in Ramallah yesterday, there is concern on both sides, and especially there, that we are seeing an escalation which will take us back to the Gaza conflict. Here of course people are particularly worried by the attacks and victims there have been.

We are especially concerned that a further conflict has emerged in recent days: the conflict about the use of the Temple Mount, which has at times flared into violence, with many demonstrations, but also unrest. That is why I said in public yesterday that we are all aware how long the international community has been struggling for peace here in the Middle East, how long we have been struggling for a two‑state solution. These are all political conflicts which are hard to resolve. I fear they will become insoluble if they turn into religious conflicts. That’s why I am truly happy that the trilateral meeting took place in Amman the day before my arrival, and that it produced agreements which have visibly helped ease the situation.

This is a first small step in the right direction, but not, I hope, the end of efforts to calm the situation here. It is in my view urgently necessary and, as I see it, in Israel’s interest if the ceasefire negotiations which have stalled are relaunched in Cairo.

When the Gaza conflict ended, we were all pretty much agreed in saying that it would be wrong merely to fall back into the status quo. Attempts must be made to secure a lasting ceasefire following the end of the Gaza conflict. Work to that end should be restarted as a matter of urgency.

As far as the joint European stance is concerned, the European Foreign Ministers will be looking at the situation in the Middle East on Monday. They will express their hope that the most recent conflicts over the last week will not lead to spiralling violence. Of course we will continue to take the line that the only opportunity for lasting peace and lasting security in Israel is in our eyes the continuation of the Middle East Peace Process with the search for and consolidation of a two‑state solution.

From my most recent talks with our American colleagues I know that Secretary of State Kerry – perhaps even encouraged by the meeting in Amman – will continue to look for possible ways to get the talks which were interrupted in the spring back on track again. I see no other possibility but this: to return to the talks on the Middle East Peace Process. Of course this also means I hope that in the meantime and until a new initiative is launched, every possible effort is made to refrain from endangering the success of such endeavours. And that support is forthcoming from all sides if possible to ensure that any new initiative, perhaps from the US Secretary of State, is successful.

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