JERUSALEM —German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that in Europe “there is clearly a growing frustration with Israel’s actions” and asked Israelis ”if they are prepared to pay the price of perpetual occupation?.”
Gabriel, who paid this week an official visit to Israel, made the remarks in a speech delivered at the annual conference of the Institute for National security Studies (INSS), Israel’s leading think tank in Tel Aviv.
He said it is increasingly difficult “for people like me” to explain to young people in Germany and within his own SPD Party “the reasons why our support for Israel must persist.”
“With regards to the Palestinian and Iran questions, the Americans are taking your side more clearly than ever before,” he said. “Is this really only a good thing?” He suggested this was not a good thing, and that the US has long succeeded in maintaining the role as a mediator, despite closeness with Israel, something that was necessary for “great achievements, like peace with Egypt.”
“Can the Americans play such a role if they take sides so openly?” he asked. “Will others try to step into their shoes?” Gabriel, who described himself as a friend of Israel and a foreign minister of a country with a special commitment to its security, said he was “sincerely worried about Israel’s mid- and long-term options.
During his visit, the German minister met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
After meeting with Netanyahu he declared that he was ‘’very thankful to hear that of course also the government of Israel wants to have two states, but with secure borders.”
The statement led Netanyahu to clarify that Israel’s “first condition,” he said, would be to control security west of the Jordan River.
“Whether or not it is defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter,” he said. “I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance.”
Gabrie has in the past raised eyebrows when he likened Israel’s policies in Hebron to “apartheid” and when he insisted on meeting the far-left NGO Breaking the Silence on a visit to Israel last year. Netanyahu then cancelled a meeting with the German minister as he insisted to hold the controversial meeting.