Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (15 July) at a press conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:
Dear Benjamin Netanyahu,
Many thanks for the friendly welcome here in Tel Aviv during what are once again difficult times for the Middle East and in particular for Israel.
I have come to Israel with the aim of sending a clear message, namely that Israel’s security is of the greatest importance to us Germans. Under international law, as well as politically and morally, Israel has the right to protect its population against rocket attacks.
Too many innocent people on all sides – Israelis and Palestinians – have to live with the constant threat of attacks, and far too many people have been harmed in the past two weeks. They have been killed, injured or have had to flee from attacks. The firing of rockets against Israel from Gaza must therefore cease immediately.
I am aware that difficult negotiations took place this morning among the Israeli Government, and precisely because I know that the decisions were not easy to make, I want to say the following: I welcome the Israeli Government’s agreement to proposals from Egypt on an immediate ceasefire.
I urge all the leaders in Gaza in the strongest possible terms to respect the proposed ceasefire, also in the interests of the people living in the Gaza Strip.
The coming hours could be decisive. At any rate, the path to a ceasefire is now open and I hope that it will be possible to take further steps in this direction. As soon as the ceasefire starts, the opportunity to hold talks, also on the future of the Gaza Strip, should be used.
Gaza must not be allowed to remain a permanent arms depot for Hamas because – as we have seen in recent weeks – this creates danger for Israel and the people in Israel. Also, the people in Gaza must not become permanent hostages to the arms stored among the civilian population.
Furthermore, the living conditions of the people in Gaza must then be improved in line with the reduced threat of rocket attacks.
I hope that we will eventually also find a way back to political talks on a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Germany and Israel are connected by a very special relationship. We are firmly committed to German-Israeli friendship, particularly at this difficult time.”