In the light of current developments in Gaza, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (2 March) in Berlin:
"I am gravely concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza. The scale of the rocket barrage fired on the Israeli city of Ashkelon is something quite new. This is unacceptable. Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks. In so doing, however, it must respect the principle of proportionality.
Numerous Palestinian civilians have been killed in the military operation Israel launched in response. I appeal to both sides to end the spiral of violence and retaliation. A first step is for them to renounce the use of violence immediately. For both sides that must be the top priority.
I noted with particular concern the decision to call off the planned peace talks. We all know the road to peace in the Middle East is a stony one. There are many obstacles ahead. Only through dialogue, however, can they be overcome. It is vital that both sides let nothing now stop them from pursuing the path of negotiations on which they are embarked."