News from Berlin
Steinmeier Emphasized the Importance of Meeting with Israeli Policy Makers
July 16th, 2014
News from Berlin - Today the German and French foreign ministers, Steinmeier and Fabius, travel to the Middle East to mediate in the Gaza conflict as internationally pressure on Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire is building. Steinmeier is firstly to visit Jordan, a country that plays a key role for stability in the region. Jordan’s King Abdullah is keen to play a role in the mediation, as he warned of the impact of the conflict on the entire region and its stability in a conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday morning.
As Steinmeier emphasized the importance of meeting with policy makers in the region, he warned that expectations for his visit to Israel should not be too high, as “a peace process is still far away”. For now, the German foreign minister sees it as his role to negotiate a ceasefire.
This morning Israel accepted an Egyptian truce proposal for the conflict with Gaza. Under the terms accepted by Israel the ceasefire should begin immediately, followed by a series of talks in Cairo with leadership from both sides. Two years ago Egypt played a significant role in the agreeing of a ceasefire between the Israeli state and Hamas. However, it is questioned whether Egypt will be able to successfully play the same role this time. The ties between the Egyptian government and Hamas have strongly weakened. Egypt’s new government sees Hamas as a sister-organisation of the Muslim brotherhood, which they condemned as a terrorist organisation. Hamas is still discussing the Egyptian plan, but its armed wing has rejected the truce as an unwelcome ‘surrender’.
European diplomats fear that Hamas will reject a ceasefire unless central points of previous peace negotiations will be included in the terms of the ceasefire. Hamas ultimately wants a stop to the settlement building by the Israelis, and a two-state resolution. The German deputy head of the Social Democratic Party for foreign policy, defence, and human rights, Rolf Mützenich, underlined another difficulty in negotiations: It is not possible to reach all the conflict parties directly, which is complicating the communication with Hamas. Mützenich however emphasized that it is the duty of international diplomacy not to let any chance of a ceasefire pass by.
The Italian foreign minister is also flying to the region, and other European countries might follow in the course of the week.
News from Berlin – Berlin Global