Following yesterday's meeting of the League of Arab States, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on the phone today (1 January) with Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, and Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian Foreign Minister. They brought the Minister up to date on what happened during the meeting and its outcomes, as well as their decision to second a delegation of Arab ministers to the UN Security Council in New York.
The Federal Foreign Minister welcomed Arab efforts to negotiate a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach the population as well as the opening of the border, thereby laying the groundwork for a permanent ceasefire. He assured his partners that the EU would continue working towards this goal and would soon send a ministerial-level Troika delegation to the region. As the prerequisite for a ceasefire, Hamas immediately had to stop missile attacks on Israeli territory. He indicated the EU's readiness, should all parties agree, to resume the EU Border Assistance Mission at Rafah in order to facilitate the opening of the crossing point.
In a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, the Federal Foreign Minister expressed great concern about the continuation of hostilities, which not only jeopardized the progress achieved in the peace process up to this point, but also undermined the position of constructive interlocutors on the Arab side. He urged his opposite number to work constructively with the current Arab efforts to achieve a ceasefire. The Israeli Foreign Minister again reassured him that Israel was doing all it could to avoid civilian casualties.
Yesterday Minister Steinmeier discussed the EU's next steps in finding a way to resolve the crisis with the outgoing and incoming Presidents of the EU Council, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, as well as Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.