German FM Gabriel seeks meeting with Netanyahu

Simar Gabriel has suggested Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy.

January 21, 2018 21:22
2 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who has suggested Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy and whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to meet last April because of his insistence on meeting representatives of Breaking the Silence, will meet Netanyahu at the end of the month in Jerusalem.

Gabriel will be in the country for a short visit on January 31 as a keynote speaker at the Institute for National Security Studies annual conference in Tel Aviv. Diplomatic sources said that Germany requested the meeting with Netanyahu, and that the details were worked out by the two foreign ministries.

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Last month, at a meeting to combat antisemitism in Berlin with Muslim migrants that came after protesters burned Israeli flags in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Gabriel – when discussing criticism of Israel – said that a visit he made to Hebron in 2012 reminded him of “what was seen during apartheid.”

And last April, Gabriel triggered a diplomatic incident by insisting on meeting with representatives of the far left NGO Breaking the Silence, even though it was made clear to him that if the meeting took place his planned meeting with Netanyahu would be cancelled. And, indeed, the two did not meet, and Gabriel then refused to take a phone call from the prime minister.

The exchange with Gabriel contrasted starkly with the way Netanyahu was received last week in India, and he told the cabinet at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that his visit to India will “be long remembered.”

Noting the “strong and warm reception” he received, Netanyahu said the trip contributed, and will continue to contribute to Israel in the spheres of economy, security, technology and diplomacy.

The two most moving moments of the trip, Netanyahu said, were his visit to the Chabad House in Mumbai with 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg who, then a toddler, was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel during the terrorist attack there a decade ago.

He also said he was moved by his meeting in Mumbai with representatives of the small Indian Jewish community. “Their contribution is disproportionate to their numbers,” he said, noting that the vast majority of the Indian Jewish community immigrated to Israel.

Netanyahu said that some of those at the meeting “wept with joy,” not because there was any antisemitism in India – there never has been any, he said – but because they have been yearning for a meeting of the “cultures, the nations and the peoples” for years, and it was now taking place before their eyes.

Netanyahu said that he will travel later this week to Davos to take part in the annual economic forum there.

“Israel is a global technological power,” he said. “We are cultivating this true strength and are promoting it in many forums,” he said. “This forum is the main global economic forum. I will meet there with a long list of heads of state – and of major corporations, [who] are no less important today.”

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