German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier attends the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's annual Convocation ceremony.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The website of the influential German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that Israel denied Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s plane permission to fly through its airspace during a trip to the Middle East weeks ago out of anger for skipping Jerusalem on his diplomatic trip.
In mid-May, Steinmeier made trips to Lebanon and Jordan in an effort to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees who fled their war-torn country. The German foreign minister urged European nations to follow Berlin’s lead.
Of the estimated 4 million Syrians who have fled the sectarian violence, there are some 130,000 in Germany, according to Steinmeier. Germany has also provided hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance to Lebanon and Jordan, the two Mideast nations who have taken in an influx of refugees.
Steinmeier first paid a visit to Lebanon. Following his stay in Beirut, he sought to make the quick trip to the Jordanian capital, Amman, a trip that only spans 240 kilometers.
According to Der Spiegel
, however, Steinmeier’s plane was denied permission by Israel to use its airspace, forcing the pilot to take a longer, 600-kilometer detour.
Steinmeier is currently in Israel and the Palestinian territories for a two-day visit. He is due in the Gaza Strip on Monday.