On 30 June Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman for talks at the Federal Foreign Office. Their discussions focused on the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in the region.
At the beginning of the press conference with Liberman, Steinmeier emphasised the significance of bilateral relations between Germany and Israel.
Steinmeier said that the two countries “enjoyed close ties”. He expressed his delight that so many young people from Israel could be found particularly in Berlin. Steinmeier continued: “I know that in view of the special history that binds us, this is by no means something we can take for granted!”
Both countries were looking forward to the coming year, when Israel and Germany will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
Moved by the fate of the missing teenagers
Other important topics of the talks between Steinmeier and Liberman, alongside bilateral issues, were the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in the region. Steinmeier assured Liberman that Germany was also moved by the fate of the three missing teenagers in the West Bank. He expressed his hope that the young people would return safely to their families. The German Foreign Minister also condemned the recent missile attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip as “unacceptable”.
Preventing further escalation of the Middle East conflict
In view of the “worrying” situation in the Middle East Steinmeier called for efforts to prevent “further escalation between Israel and Palestine”. He hoped that the Middle East Peace Process was not at an end and that conditions could be established in which the interrupted talks could be resumed. Steinmeier underlined that ultimately there was “no alternative” to the negotiating table and a return to the two‑state solution.
The Israeli Foreign Minister pointed out that in his view a solution could only be found as part of an overall solution for the entire region.
Serious concern about the advance of ISIS in Iraq
Both Ministers expressed great concern about the advance of the Islamist terrorist organisation ISIS in Iraq. The German Foreign Minister described ISIS as a serious threat to Iraq’s territorial integrity and to the whole region. Steinmeier emphasised: “All parties must have an interest in ensuring that ISIS does not gain a foothold and allow a breeding ground for violence and terrorism to develop in the so‑called caliphate it has declared.”
He said that the terrorist organisation must be prevented from taking root and should be kept separate from other Sunni groups. However, he added that this would only be possible if a government could be formed in Iraq “which appropriately represents all the country’s religions and regions”. The Israeli Foreign Minister also underscored the importance of a unity government. Yet he conceded that this could not be prescribed from outside, but would have to be brought about by the Iraqi people themselves.
Another issue discussed by the two Ministers was the E3+3 negotiations with Iran.