Question: Foreign Minister, during your visit to Israel, you experienced rockets being fired on the country and saw the damage caused by such attacks. Did this lead you to be unusually clear in underlining solidarity with Israel?
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: Seeing the devastation that just one rocket can cause certainly leaves a strong impression of the great threat people face. However, solidarity with Israel is not merely a feeling, but rather a firm conviction and a cornerstone of our policy for me and for the German Government. I wanted to underline that.
Question: Israel does not want to negotiate with terrorists. Federal Chancellor Merkel has said that Hamas must be “included to a certain extent”. What is your position?
Maas: Hamas is a terrorist organisation and as such it has also been listed by the European Union. As Gaza’s de facto ruler, it poses an ongoing threat to Israel’s security and decides the fate of two million people. That is why it is important that partners such as Egypt are in a position to mediate. The United Nations also needs to talk with Hamas in order to be able to help people. Our point of contact is the Palestinian Authority led by President Abbas.
Question: There has been repeated criticism that EU humanitarian funding is used for terrorist financing in Gaza. How can this be prevented in the future?
Maas: Humanitarian aid workers – above all UNRWA – do important work as regards providing basic care to a large number of people in Gaza. We regard the financing of terrorist organisations as completely unacceptable. Any indications of this must be investigated rapidly and in depth. We make sure of this, and my impression is that the UN organisations also take this issue very seriously.
Question: Did you also discuss the current threats against the Jewish community in Germany during your talks?
Maas: I raised this topic myself. It is important to me that people in Israel know that the German Government does not tolerate antisemitic hatred and incitement or threats against Jews under any circumstances and that it meets such conduct with the full force of the law.
Interview: Detlef David Kauschke.