Former German FM says regrets calling Israel 'apartheid regime'

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Sigmar Gabriel described Israel's rule of Hebron as "catastrophic."

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visits the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem on April 24, 2017 (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visits the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem on April 24, 2017
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)
Germany’s former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said over the weekend that he regretted likening Israel to the former apartheid regime in South Africa.
“I would not repeat this hard comparison again,” Gabriel said in an interview with the Die Welt daily. However, he launched into a fresh verbal assault on Israel, telling the paper its policies in Hebron are a “catastrophe.”
Gabriel, in a Facebook post in 2012, termed Israel’s control over Hebron in the West Bank an “apartheid regime.” He reiterated his comparison between Israel’s policy and the now-defunct apartheid South African regime in December 2017, in remarks to German Muslims and migrants from Muslim-majority countries in Berlin.
The EU- and US-classified terrorist organization Hamas, on its Twitter feed, praised Gabriel for his comparison in January 2018.
Gabriel told Die Welt over the weekend that he would not again call Israel an apartheid state, “because Israel is a democratic state, and one can see exactly that in the way the Justice Ministry proceeds against a [former] president.” He added that such a judicial process would “probably have not been possible” in apartheid South Africa.
Gabriel told the paper that “the occupation regime in Hebron creates catastrophic human tragedies for the Palestinians.”
He cited the example of a mother whose disabled child required emergency care but faced delays because of the need to secure permission from Israel’s army. Gabriel did not say where the mother wished to travel.
German students at the University of Bonn protested at a lecture by Gabriel this past Monday. They blanketed the top of the auditorium with banners reading: “Against Iran-Siggi!: For Israel!” Siggi is short for Sigmar. Gabriel has faced a whirlwind of criticism from German Jews and commentators for his delegitimization of the Jewish state and his pro-Iran policies.
The students, in a flyer, criticized Gabriel for his support for despots, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In January, Gabriel allowed Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, an alleged mass murderer, to flee Germany after receiving medical aid in Hanover.
Sharoudi, who served as the head of Iran’s judiciary from 1999 to 2009, oversaw the executions of thousands of Iranians, including children.
The students’ flyer cited a January 3 editorial in The Jerusalem Post that termed Gabriel the “poster boy of Hamas.” The Post editorial came in response to Hamas thanking Gabriel for slamming Israel in December.
“Do you continue to stand by your statement that Israel is an apartheid state?” the protesters shouted at Gabriel in Bonn.