Published: Thu, April 27, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Netanyahu refuses to meet German minister


Germany's foreign minister has rejected demands by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he cancel a scheduled Tuesday meeting with left-wing Israeli groups.

Earlier, the foreign minister told Germany's ZDF television that it was "completely normal" to meet with Breaking the Silence and B'tselem, another group critical of Israeli policies.

A spokesman for Breaking the Silence declined to comment on Netanyahu's decision to snub Gabriel, or on the details of their planned meeting, which the Peace Now movement said it would also attend along with the B'Tselem rights group.

Questioning Netanyahu's logic, Gabriel said it would be "unthinkable" for him to call off a meeting with the Israeli PM if the latter met with figures critical of the German government.

German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel looks on during his meeting with Israel's President, Reuven Rivlin at the President's residence in Jerusalem, April 25, 2017.

But neither Breaking the Silence nor B'Tselem can be accurately described as "social groups".

Breaking the Silence, which collects anonymous testimony from Israeli soldiers about human-rights violations they say they witnessed during military service, receives much of its funding from European governments. "I have been in this country so often and have a lot of friends, and it wouldn't change my relationship with Israel".

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Netanyahu's office told the German delegation it would not take action if a junior member of the German delegation kept the meeting.

This is Gabriel's first visit to the Middle East since becoming foreign minister in January, and it comes at a time when ties between Germany have hit an all-time low due to concerns about Israeli settlement building.

A joint statement issued by Benjamin Netanyahu's office said "It is shameful that an indictment is to be issued against the prime minister's wife based on false allegations".

Among those receiving money from Germany are the "Women's Coalition for Peace", "Physicians for Human Rights", and "Zochrot" - an organization calling for the return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel (in other words, Israel's destruction). "We know how to maintain our army as the most moral in the world, and we will continue to do so".

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Gabriel thanked Rivlin and mentioned the significance of his experience being in Israel during yesterday's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day.

Responding to the ultimatum, Gabriel said it would be "regrettable" if Netanyahu cancels the meeting.

Peleg continued: "The only organizations in Israel that the German government funds are political propaganda organizations that promote defamatory criticism against Israel including false accusations of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and additional crimes against humanity".

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