On 26 July, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to a meeting of Foreign Ministers, convened at short notice, on the crisis in the Middle East. In the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, the Foreign Ministers agreed to call on both parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire.
The meeting, which took place at the initiative of US Secretary of State John Kerry, was attended by, amongst others, the Foreign Ministers of the US, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the EU High Representative. Together, they discussed ways of progressing towards a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza.
Call for the humanitarian ceasefire to be extended
Following the meeting, Steinmeier stated that an agreement had been reached to call on the parties to extend the ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.
He said that the time had to be used to provide humanitarian aid to people in the Gaza Strip and to prepare negotiations for a lasting truce. According to the German Foreign Minister, two points were crucial in this regard:
The ceasefire will only hold if Gaza no longer serves as Hamas’s weapons depot and if the living conditions of the people there are sustainably improved.” The ceasefire will only last if the Palestinian Authority takes over authority of the Gaza Strip and if border control is put back in its hands.
The deaths must stop
Beforehand, the German Foreign Minister had already announced that the intention of the meeting in Paris was not to speak about “guilt and responsibility for the renewed escalation in the Middle East” but much more importantly, to reach agreement “that the deaths must stop”.
The meeting of Foreign Ministers could serve as a building block in the process of achieving a lasting truce, said Steinmeier, continuing: “A block which must be built on, above all by the conflict parties themselves.”