[T. Belman. Netanyahu should not back down.]
In Israel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel won’t back down from meeting representatives of left-wing organizations
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultimatum on Tuesday, saying it would be “regrettable” if the latter decides to cancel their meeting because of Gabriel’s meeting with representatives of left-wing Israeli organizations.
Speaking to German TV network ZDF, Gabriel defined his planned meetings with representatives of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence as “totally normal.”
Gabriel, currently in Israel, said he had only learned of Netanyahu’s threat from the media and noted it would be “inconceivable” for the German minister to cancel a meeting with the Israeli leader if the latter met with figures critical of the German government. He nevertheless said “it wouldn’t be a catastrophe” if their meeting is canceled, and that it wouldn’t change his ties with Israel.
“You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries,” he said.
Netanyahu is demanding that Gabriel, who arrived on Monday for a visit to Israel, cancel his planned meeting on Tuesday with representatives of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu issued an ultimatum to Gabriel, saying that if the latter does not cancel his meetings with the left-wing groups, the prime minister won’t meet with him. The ultimatum was first reported by Israel Channel 2 News.