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Out of solidarity and concern: Foreign Minister Gabriel travels to the Middle East

Jerusalem

Jerusalem, © dpa/picture-alliance

30.01.2018 - Article

Foreign Minister Gabriel will depart for Israel and the Palestinian territories on Tuesday evening (30 January), not least to encourage his interlocutors to recommit to the Middle East peace process.

After US President Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it has become even more difficult to return to the negotiating table. The tone between Israelis and Palestinians has become rougher and proponents of a two state solution are having an increasingly tough time. Against this backdrop, Germany and Europe are pushing even harder for the parties to seek direct talks with one another.

Holding firm to the two state solution

The Foreign Minister will first meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (31 January). Israel is and remains Germany’s closest partner in the region. During his visit, Gabriel will therefore make it clear that solidarity with Israel and a firm commitment to a two state solution are not mutually exclusive, but go hand in hand.
Talks with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas are planned with this in mind. Foreign Minister Gabriel will also encourage the Palestinian side to resume the peace process. The Federal Government is convinced that only a two state solution will do justice to the interests of both sides.

Regional issues

Regional issues will likewise be a topic of discussion. Iran’s role and Israel’s concerns surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) will be on the agenda. The Foreign Minister intends to make it clear that the nuclear agreement with Iran is the best and so far only way to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It will ensure greater security throughout the region, which Israel also stands to benefit from at the end of the day.

EU/E3 + Iran meeting in Brussels
EU/E3 + Iran meeting in Brussels© picture alliance

Irrespective of this, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as France, Britain, Germany and the USA, are determined to address the issue of the Iranian missile programme. A structured dialogue with Iran was recently agreed in Brussels to this end.

Responsibility for Israel

Close bilateral relations will also be an important part of the trip. Only a few days after commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on 27 January and 70 years after the foundation of the State of Israel, the visit underscores Germany’s responsibility for Israel’s security stemming from the terrible history of the Holocaust. Foreign Minister Gabriel will conclude his visit by giving a speech at the 11th Annual International Conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, a leading Israeli think tank, and address challenges in Europe and the Middle East.

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