Given the continuing conflict in the Gaza Strip, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier this evening (29 December) held a telephone conversation with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority.
The two men agreed that the current events not only represented a humanitarian and political disaster for the people in Gaza but could also potentially destabilize the region as a whole.
They expressed their conviction that the situation could on no account be allowed to escalate to the point where the Annapolis process, including the progress made during Abbas's talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was jeopardized. A solution to the region's problems could only be achieved through a viable political process.
Minister Steinmeier made it clear that Hamas had to finally put a stop to the missile attacks on Israeli towns and villages and return to the unilaterally-renounced cease-fire forthwith. At the same time, he continued, the Federal Government urged Israel to respect the principle of proportionality in its military actions and to do all it could to avoid civilian losses. In the present situation it was important, he said, to supply the people in Gaza with urgently-needed relief supplies. One positive aspect was that today several convoys had been allowed to cross the border.
President Abbas informed Minister Steinmeier about the Arab side's planned steps towards tackling the crisis, referring in particular to the meeting of Arab League foreign ministers scheduled for 31 December.