JERUSALEM—‘’I want to thank you for Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security which you repeated in our conversation,’’ said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as he met visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jerusalem.
He added : ‘’We just discussed the region and our bilateral relations. They are strong. I appreciate Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security. We discussed the efforts in stabilizing the region which is made more difficult by Iran’s aggression in Syria and in Lebanon, and our common quest for peace, and resuming some kind of peace process with the Palestinians.’’
In April last year, Netanyahu refused to meet with Gabriel when the latter triggered a diplomatic incident by insisting to meet representatives of Breaking the Silence during his visit.
Netanyahu explained his decision not to meet Gabriel by saying at the time that his policy is clear: “Not to meet with diplomats who visit Israel and engage with organizations that slander Israeli soldiers and seek to have them put on trial as war criminals. Those same diplomats would not dream of doing such a thing in the United State or in Britain, or anywhere else.”
Gabriel, who is a member of the Social Democrat party (SPD), raised more eyebrows last month at a meeting to combat anti-Semitism in Berlin with Muslim migrants. When the issue of criticism of Israel came up, he said that a visit he made to Hebron in 2012 reminded him of “what was seen during apartheid.”
He has not yet dialed back that comment, which was applauded by Hamas, which wrote on its official English Twitter account: “German FM describes the Israeli occupation as an apartheid regime like the one was in South Africa.”