German minister makes quick visit to Gaza Strip

Berlin funds refurbished sewage plant, but nixes establishing ties with Hamas

Gazan sewage flowing into the sea. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
Gazan sewage flowing into the sea. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s development minister has made a brief visit to the Gaza Strip to inaugurate a sewage plant in the territory whose refurbishment was funded by Berlin.

Dirk Niebel’s ministry said he also laid the cornerstone Sunday for a school to be run by the UN Relief and Works Agency.

Officially, Germany doesn’t deal with Hamas, which rules Gaza and which Israel, the US and European Union list as a terrorist organization. Niebel’s ministry says he met later Sunday with an Israeli major-general responsible for coordinating activities in the Palestinian territories.

Niebel said Israel and the West should continue to boycott Hamas and look for a peace partner in the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

“Hamas is rightfully listed in Europe and the US as terror organizations and therefore not a partner for a political, peaceful solution leading to a  two state solution,” he said. “Our partner for that is found in Ramallah.”

Relations between Israel and Germany hit the rocks over the last week as Israel slammed Germany for not voting against Palestinian statehood in the United Nations and Berlin blasted Israel for pushing ahead with settlement expansion plans.

Niebel’s trip to Gaza, which he already visited last year, comes at the end of a trip that also included stops in Israel and talks in the West Bank with officials in Abbas’s Western-backed government.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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