lieberman and westerwelle 311.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
An urgent EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels to deal with the crisis in
the Arab world led German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to arrive in Israel
Sunday for a brief visit, instead of arriving Monday with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and much of her cabinet.
Westerwelle on Sunday evening had
a meeting with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that, in addition to the
diplomatic process and Iran, was also expected to focus on Egypt and the rapidly
changing situation in the Arab world.
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Westerwelle, who was originally
scheduled to take part in a joint German-Israeli cabinet meeting, will leave the
country for Brussels before Merkel arrives.
Egypt is also expected to be
a major focus of discussion when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets Merkel
Merkel is expected to arrive Monday afternoon for a joint
government meeting with the Israeli cabinet, several hours after eight of her
ministers arrive. This will be the third such joint meeting between the
governments of the two countries since 2008.
The German ministers are
slated to meet for bilateral consultations with their Israeli counterparts
before the joint government meeting.
One of the bilateral accords to be
signed will be a letter of intent to increase bilateral cooperation between
Israel and Germany in assisting developing countries.
Minister Danny Ayalon will sign the agreement with the German Federal Minister
for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel. The first project will be
the rehabilitation of contaminated regions in Kenya adjacent to Lake
Netanyahu, discussing the joint meeting before Sunday’s cabinet
session, said that Israel and Germany have many joint economic, security and
diplomatic interests, and “our desire is to move the peace process
We see Germany as a central anchor in our relations with Europe,
as one of the most important countries in Europe, and one of the most important
countries to Israel.”
One of the issues the Merkel and Netanyahu are
expected to discuss is the upcoming Quartet meeting in Munich on Saturday, where
Israel expected to offer a package of confidence- building measures to the
Palestinians, partly as a way to blunt any harshly critical statement coming
from that meeting.
The last Quartet meeting was held in September on the
sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
One diplomatic source,
however, said that with events rapidly unfolding in the Middle East, it was not
clear that the Israeli-Palestinian agenda would be the main focus of that
meeting. In what appears to be preparation for the Quartet parley, Netanyahu met
Sunday night, for the second time in a week, with Quartet envoy Tony
Merkel will stay on through Tuesday, when she is to receive an
honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. She will also participate in a
conference at the Institute for National Security Studies on “Security
Challenges of the 21st Century.”