Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to meet with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel because of the latter’s intention to meet with human rights group.
“The meeting is cancelled,” said David Keyes, a Netanyahu spokesman.
“Imagine if foreign diplomats visiting the United States or Britain met with NGOs that call American or British soldiers war criminals. Leaders of those countries would surely not accept this.”
— x Madenie x dan (@MadzXdan) April 25, 2017
Gabriel told reporters the decision was “not nice” and caught him by surprise since he generally had an open relationship with Netanyahu, but emphasised that it did not signal “the end of diplomatic ties between the two countries”.
“I regret it greatly. And, I’ll say it openly, we cannot become a political football for Israeli domestic politics.”
he said. “But it’s not a catastrophe. There will be another occasion to meet somewhere … We have to let things cool off.”
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) April 25, 2017
On Monday, an Israeli official had said Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, would not see Gabriel if he went ahead with meeting the Israeli group Breaking the Silence.
The organisation, a frequent target of criticism by the Israeli government, collects testimony from Israeli veterans about the military’s treatment of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Speaking during a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Gabriel said: “You can absolutely be sure we are committed to the friendship, the partnership and the special relationship with Israel and nothing will change this.”
Netanyahu’s spokesperson Keyes also played down the impact of the spat, saying: “Our relations with Germany are very important and will not be affected by this.”
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)