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Maas visits Israel and Jordan: strengthen cooperation, diplomacy instead of unilateral steps

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to Israel and Jordan

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to Israel and Jordan, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

10.06.2020 - Article

The Foreign Minister’s first trip outside of Europe since the beginning of the COVID‑19 pandemic will take him to the Middle East. This shows that peace and stability in the region are immensely important for Germany and the EU.

With his first visit to Israel in one and a half years, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wants to strengthen cooperation between Germany and Israel, as well as between the EU and Israel. He believes the future of the Middle East process must involve a return to talks, as opposed to unilateral steps that would make a peaceful solution more difficult.

Close cooperation with Israel

Following a lengthy government formation process in Israel, Foreign Minister Maas is now the second Foreign Minister after Secretary of State Pompeo to visit the country. This highlights the very close relations that exist between Germany and Israel.

I look forward to meeting my new Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi in person. Our two countries enjoy special, close and amicable relations. Immediately after Mr Ashkenazi assumed office, we agreed to discuss our cooperation with regard to a number of bilateral, regional and international issues. Today, we want to fulfil that promise.

In view of Germany’s responsibility for the atrocities of the Holocaust, both countries are jointly engaged in remembrance work. Germany will make a one million euro annual contribution to the central Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem for a further ten years. The respective agreement is due to be signed today. Their talks will also focus on promoting German-Israeli youth exchange and on Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020.

New diplomatic initiatives for the Middle East peace process

Regarding the conflict in the Middle East, Germany and its EU partners are campaigning for a resumption of negotiations and for a two-state solution. While in Israel, Foreign Minister Maas will also communicate Europe’s concerns about potential repercussions of the annexation that has been proposed by the Israeli Government.

Current developments in the Middle East peace process and possible annexation plans are much-discussed topics in Israel – and in the European Union. Germany remains committed to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution. We will talk about this issue, as well, and I will underscore that we are prepared to support all initiatives to revive talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Alliance of multilateralists: fighting COVID‑19 together with Jordan

Next, during his stop in Jordan, Foreign Minister Maas and his Jordanian counterpart Safadi will discuss current developments in the Middle East with Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh. Foreign Minister Maas and Prime Minister Shtayyeh last exchanged views during the fifth meeting of the German-Palestinian Steering Committee in mid-May. The Committee also discussed measures to combat the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and Germany’s support for the Palestinian population.

Jordan is an important partner for Germany in connection with all regional issues, such as the conflict in Syria, the fight against ISIS and of course the Middle East peace process. Moreover, Germany and Jordan are closely cooperating in the Alliance for Multilateralism. Currently, cooperation is particularly focused on the joint fight against COVID‑19 and the pandemic’s effects. Jordan’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus have so far been very successful. Germany wants to support Jordan as it now tackles the task of economic recovery.

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