German FM Steinmeier due in Gaza Strip, won't meet with Hamas leaders

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June 1, 2015 04:59
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A day after stressing the importance of reconstructing the Gaza Strip and saying that Israel’s security is tied to the prosperity of Gaza, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to visit there briefly on Monday.

Steinmeier joins a growing list of Western statesmen who have visited the Gaza Strip since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, including the foreign ministers of Norway, Ireland, and Spain, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and outgoing Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

Like those other leaders, Steinmeier will not meet with Hamas officials. The EU’s policy is that it will not engage with Hamas until the organization recognizes Israel, forswears terrorism, and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Israel has not opposed foreign statesmen’s visits to Gaza, as long as no meetings with Hamas officials are held.

“We have to look for options which will enable renewing negotiations with the Palestinians,” Steinmeier said at a photo opportunity at the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following their meeting Sunday. “The situation in Gaza is very, very difficult, and we have to think about the reconstruction of Gaza and the economic situation, because only through the rehabilitation of Gaza and the economy of its residents, can we think about the security of Israel, which is tied to the prosperity in Gaza.”


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