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Netanyahu warns German Foreign Minister against meeting left-wing NGOs

PM Netanyahu has threatened to cancel a meeting with the German Foreign Minister over plans to meet with left-wing NGOs B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. Gabriel told reporters that he was not informed officially of a possible cancellation.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an has ultimatum to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who arrived on Monday for a visit to Israel, threatening to cancel their meeting if the German politician did not withdraw from meetings with human-rights groups B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

According to report by Channel 2 news, Netanyahu called the planned meetings with representatives of the leftist organizations a “provocative behavior.”

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Israel Channel 2 News citing sources within Netanyahu’s office who said that although the ultimatum was issued to Gabriel, German diplomats have said the politician intended to go to all meetings as planned. including  President Reuven Rivlin and opposition chairman Isaac Herzog.

Haaretz Herzog issued a statement on Monday condemning Netanyahu’s alleged threats and accused him of harming Israel’s foreign relations.

“Netanyahu’s ultimatum to the German foreign minister is a serious blow to Israel’s foreign relations with the largest economy in Europe and a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” Herzog said, “I call on Netanyahu to meet with the German foreign minister and present his positions and Israel’s positions, without fear of any organisations.”

Gabriel told reporters that he was not informed officially of a possible cancellation. “I don’t know if it is true that the meeting is not taking place,” he told reporters during a news conference along side the Palestinian prime minister in the West Bank.

He added “I only know this from the media, and I don’t know the motives. If it is the case, someone will explain it to me at some point.”

Gabriel told Germany’s ZDF television that it was “completely normal” to meet with Breaking the Silence and B’tselem, another group critical of Israeli policies.

“It would be ‘unthinkable’ to cancel meetings with Netanyahu if the Israeli leader traveled to Germany and met government critics there.”

Netanyahu’s ultimatum comes during a period of instability between Israel and Germany highlighted by Germany cancelling an inter-governmental meeting scheduled for next month in protest of the Regulation Law and settlement construction.

In February, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel met with representatives of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem during his visit to Israel, a after Netanyahu had met with Michel and asked that the Belgian government stop funding left-wing organizations in Israel. The Belgian ambassador to Israel was summoned to a clarification the meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

Gabriel, the Social Democratic Party leader, holds firm views on Israel regarding the Israel- Palestinians conflict. He accused Israel of implementing an apartheid regime in Hebron.




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