Non‑stop diplomacy: Foreign Minister Baerbock makes another trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Herzliya Security Conference in Tel Aviv

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Herzliya Security Conference in Tel Aviv, © Photothek Media Lab

24.06.2024 - Article

In the Middle East, there is growing concern about an unintended escalation between the pro‑Iranian Hezbollah militia group and Israel. The Minister’s talks will address the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, the release of the hostages and the prospects for a two‑state solution.

Following her arrival on Monday evening, the Foreign Minister will be speaking at the Herzliya Security Conference in Tel Aviv at the invitation of the organisers. Her speech will address the question of what specifically is meant by commitment to both the immediate and lasting security for Israel, and it will outline ideas on elements that will be key for preparing a way out of the conflict and allowing for progress to be made.

The Herzliya Conference has been held for more than 20 years and is a high-level event that is attended by representatives from politics and academia. It is an important forum for dialogue that enables an exchange of ideas across the entire breadth of Israeli society.

Shuttle diplomacy: talks in Ramallah and in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, talks are first scheduled in Ramallah with Mohammad Mustafa, the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA). He truly has his work cut out for him, as the PA must urgently implement reforms. At the same time, the economic situation is dire. Violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers has increased, and since May the Israeli Government has been withholding all tax and customs revenue from the PA. It must be remembered that the PA provides indispensable public services in the West Bank, i.e. school education, the operation of hospitals and infrastructure and, to an extent, also security. The looming financial collapse of the PA would further jeopardise an already fragile security situation in the West Bank.

In Jerusalem, a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz is scheduled that will primarily focus on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and on efforts to free the remaining hostages. The plan that was presented by President Biden – which is based on Israeli proposals and has been approved by the UN Security Council, and that also enjoys the support of partners from the Arab world, from Europe, America, Asia and Africa – points the way to a lasting ceasefire. Germany is urgently calling on Hamas to accept this plan.

Hamas is still holding more than 100 Israeli women, men and children hostage in its tunnels – and has been doing so for over eight months. They must finally be released. During this trip, Foreign Minister Baerbock will again meet with relatives of those who have been abducted.

A dangerous situation along the border: talks in Lebanon

On Tuesday afternoon, the Foreign Minister will be in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where she will meet with, among others, Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Their talks will focus on the tense and dangerous situation along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah is using drones and rockets to destabilise an entire region. Many areas in southern Lebanon, including agricultural land, have been destroyed. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting. On both sides of the border, people have been unable to return to their houses since October. Lebanon is in a deep crisis due to its disastrous economic situation and its continued political impasse. Military escalation would have catastrophic consequences for the country and the region.

To prevent these smouldering fires from turning into a conflagration, it is essential to keep channels of communication open and to seek dialogue. The path to a solution has been mapped out by UN Resolution 1701. It must be implemented by all sides. This includes the withdrawal of Hezbollah from the border region, demarcation of the border and a comprehensive peace agreement. A primary aspect of the German Government’s activities is its participation in the UN Mission UNIFIL.


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