Visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says that while he is “surprised” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled their meeting in protest of his meetings with left-wing Israeli groups, he does not consider the issue “a catastrophe.”
Gabriel tells German reporters in Jerusalem that he and Netanyahu have “a very open relationship,” and “was therefore surprised the visit was canceled, apparently because we will do something that is very usual for such visits: to speak with representatives of civil society, and among them there are also Israeli citizens of Israel critical of the government. ”
Gabriel says the offending organizations have previously been included in official events sponsored by the German government, and their participation was not protested by the Israeli government.
“I regret this a lot, but I want to state openly that we must not became a tool of Israeli domestic policy,” he says. “There will be another occasion to meet somewhere. I don’t consider this a catastrophe. If you come here you have to know that there can be surprises. But my relationship with Israel, and Germany’s relationship to Israel will not be changed by this in any way.”
— Raphael Ahren