German FM: Unilateral decisions by both sides are an obstacle to peace negotiations

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, expresses commitment to Israel's security and hope that peace negotiations resume.

November 16, 2014 12:17
2 minute read.
President Reuven Rivlin

President Reuven Rivlin. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Unilateral decisions on both sides are an obstacle to the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, German Foreign Minister Dr.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday at a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the latter’s official residence.

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Steinmeier reiterated his country’s commitment to Israel’s security, and said after his meeting on Saturday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he was hopeful that “we will experience a new attempt and a new approach” toward restarting negotiations.

The foreign minister said that the meeting in Amman last week among US Secretary of State John Kerry, King Abdullah, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “very supportive” in helping to calm tensions. He was pleased that there had been no new outbreaks of violence during Friday prayers at al-Aksa Mosque.

Steinmeier is on a twoday visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to help bolster peace-making efforts and the resumption of negotiations between the two sides. The visit comes at a time when anti-Semitism is escalating in Germany, and when the conclusion of a deal to downsize Iran’s nuclear program is being finalized. The visit also comes on the eve of a series of events that will mark the 50th anniversary of the once controversial establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, which Steinmeier mentioned in his conversation with Rivlin.

Germany’s relations with Israel, once a bone in the throat of Holocaust survivors and people who lost relatives and friends in the Holocaust, has evolved into one of Israel’s strongest partnerships in Europe.

Even Rivlin, who as a university student demonstrated against the presentation of credentials by Germany’s first ambassador to Israel, Rolf Pauls, acknowledges this, and was pleased to welcome Steinmeier, who was accompanied by German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis.

Steinmeier arrived in Israel following the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s international conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin last week. Steinmeier, who is chairman of the OSCE, warned that hatred of Jews is again on the rise in his own country and across Europe. He attributed this to the increase of violence throughout the Middle East, and noted that Jews in Germany are often threatened and assaulted at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

He was adamant that the conflict between Israel and Gaza is no justification for anti-Semitism.

In greeting Steinmeier, Rivlin made a point of welcoming him to “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel” and assured him that “Israel did not and will not declare war on Islam,” adding that “We are fighting fundamentalism and that is a real problem.”

He commended Steinmeier for telling Abbas that Germany supports direct negotiations.

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