Netanyahu Cancels Meeting With German FM Over Rights Groups Row

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called off a meeting with the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel because the diplomat refused to call off meetings with Israeli rights groups.

The cancellation came about because Gabriel is planning to meet human rights groups critical of Israel’s actions in the West Bank. Gabriel decided to go ahead and meet with anti occupation groups Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

Questioning Netanyahu’s logic, Gabriel said it would be “unthinkable” for him to call off a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister if the latter met with groups critical of the German government.

Press TV reports:

Gabriel traveled to the occupied territories on Monday evening to press for the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long conflict resulting from Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

Earlier on the day, Gabriel said it would be “regrettable” if Netanyahu called off their meeting, arguing it was normal to talk to civil society representatives.

“Imagine if the Israeli Prime Minister … came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible … That would be unthinkable,” he told Germany’s ZDF television.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog blasted Netanyahu for issuing the ultimatum and accused him of harming Berlin-Tel Aviv ties.

“Netanyahu’s ultimatum to the German foreign minister is a serious blow to Israel’s foreign relations with the biggest economy in Europe,” he said.

Back in February, Berlin canceled an annual meeting of German and Israeli leaders scheduled for May amid rising frustration with settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.

Additionally in the same month, Israel summoned the Belgian ambassador to Tel Aviv after Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel met with representatives of Breaking the Silence and B’tselem organizations.

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