Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely urged German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday to lead efforts to prevent the labeling of Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, saying the initiative would harm both Israelis and Palestinians.
“The State of Israel stands against a tough onslaught of boycotts coming from Europe,” she said, adding Israel anticipated “that Germany would lead the struggle against the phenomenon of labeling products from Judea and Samaria (West Bank).”
“The boycott of products hurts the quality of life in Judea and Samaria both for the Palestinian side and for the Israeli side,” Hotovely said.
In April, the foreign ministers of 16 of the European Union’s 28 member states sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini asking her to promote the labeling of products from the settlements in store chains throughout Europe. Germany wasn’t among the signatories. Then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman strongly condemned the bid, suggesting that European nations might as well label them “with a yellow star” such as the one used by Nazi Germany to identify Jews before and during the Holocaust.
Hotovely thanked the German foreign minister for Berlin’s opposition to the Palestinian Football Association’s proposed suspension of Israel at FIFA, terming his assistance as integral in “preventing the Palestinian provocation.”
Hotovely also praised Berlin’s efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a “nuclear threshold state,” as well as its continuing opposition to anti-Semitism.
Steinmeier met with Hotovely Sunday morning in the first of several meetings in Jerusalem celebrating 50 years of ties between Israel and Germany.
The meetings, along with several in Ramallah, are also aimed at reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As part of his two-day visit to the region, Steinmeier will hold talks in Jerusalem on Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Steinmeier met with opposition leader Isaac Herzog at his home on Saturday. During the meeting, Herzog thanked the German foreign minister for “emphasizing to the Palestinians and to the countries of Europe that the only way to arrive at a secure peace is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” adding that “one-sided moves damage and hurt the chances at arriving at such” an agreement.
Steinmeier is also scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip to assess the pace of reconstruction that has been mired by delays. A statement from the German Foreign Ministry called the situation “very precarious.”
“We must quickly move forward with reconstruction and economic development [in the Strip] in order to give people genuine opportunities,” the statement read. “Gaza must not again become a launching pad for attacks on Israel.”