German FM Steinmeier due in Gaza Strip, won’t meet with …

Posted By on June 1, 2015

A day after stressing the importance of reconstructing the Gaza Strip and saying that Israels security is tied to the prosperity of Gaza, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to visit there briefly on Monday.

Steinmeier joins a growing list of Western statesmen who have visited the Gaza Strip since last summers Operation Protective Edge, including the foreign ministers of Norway, Ireland, and Spain, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and outgoing Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

Like those other leaders, Steinmeier will not meet with Hamas officials. The EUs policy is that it will not engage with Hamas until the organization recognizes Israel, forswears terrorism, and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Israel has not opposed foreign statesmens visits to Gaza, as long as no meetings with Hamas officials are held.

We have to look for options which will enable renewing negotiations with the Palestinians, Steinmeier said at a photo opportunity at the Prime Ministers Office in the capital with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following their meeting Sunday. The situation in Gaza is very, very difficult, and we have to think about the reconstruction of Gaza and the economic situation, because only through the rehabilitation of Gaza and the economy of its residents, can we think about the security of Israel, which is tied to the prosperity in Gaza.

At a separate meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his residence, Steinmeier returned to the Gaza theme and said the troubled situation in Gaza demands of us to think about concrete steps to improve daily life there without which, I am afraid, the situation is escalating.

Netanyahu, who said he and Steinmeier spoke at some length about the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, stated that the only way to move the diplomatic process forward is through direct negotiations.

Germany has not yet made any public comments regarding a resolution that France and New Zealand are expected to bring to the UN Security Council setting the parameters of a two-state solution, and a timetable to carry it out. Israel is opposed to such a move, and Netanyahu is making his opposition clear in private meetings.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully is scheduled to visit later this week, followed by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius later in the month.

While the Palestinians have moved away from these negotiations, Netanyahu said alongside Steinmeier that he remains committed to the idea that the only way we can achieve a lasting peace is through the concept of two states for two peoples a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish nation state of Israel.

Asked by a reporter about his pre-election comment that a Palestinian state would not emerge during his tenure, he clarified that what he said was that the conditions that would enable two states for two people dont presently seem to exist.

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