A bitter-sweet friendship - The German-Israeli relationship in times of strategic shift
The past week has been exemplary and intense in its example of how great the potential of the German-Israeli relationship is – but it also demonstrated the power of the conflicting forces that lie just below the surface. It has never been so clearly revealed simultaneously: The positive, the common bond, as well as that which separates, drives apart and conflicts. The bilateral relationship of the two countries is facing enormous challenges at a time in which major shifts are taking place in conditions in the Middle East – accompanied by upheavals of epic proportion. The quick turnover of events in Germany is closely connected to the fact that the past week was the last week the German Parliament was in session for this legislative period. A flood of bills where on the table that "still had to be passed" before Parliament recessed. A good example is the "marriage for all" bill that set politicians from every party and persuasion under pressure to get it passed before the short summer break and the subsequent elections.
Germany visits friends - About Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s visit to Israel
A turbulent time in German-Israeli relationships is currently playing out before our eyes. And it is once again the double-standard that is continuously imposed upon Israel that is the cause of the turbulence. The current tension between the two allies is a result of the cancellation of a meeting planned between Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of Israel’s government and Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Foreign Minister. The meeting was cancelled by Benjamin Netanyahu himself, which caused great consternation in the German political scene and in the media. In order to understand why he made the decision to put the highest diplomat of one of his closest allies in his place so publically, one has to view the situation in a broader context.
Tensions in the relationship
On December 23, 2016, the UN-Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which declared settlements in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to be illegal according to international law. By abstaining from the vote, the USA allowed the Counsel to pass this strongly Israel-critical resolution – in essence approving it. Thus, in its last days in power, the Obama Administration again released a diplomatic inferno over Israel. In Israel, the resolution was thoroughly rejected by all parties of all colors. Benjamin Netanyahu described it as an “historic mistake”.
A month later, at the Peace Conference in Paris, Germany, represented by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Foreign Minister at the time, identified itself with the International Community and in essence gave full support to Resolution 2334 by signing the final protocol of the summit. Then, in February 2017, the German Government cancelled the annual Government Consultation Meetings planned for May because of “scheduling difficulties”. Behind the scenes, the stubborn rumor prevailed that the cancellation was really due to the German rejection of Israel’s settlement policy.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 16 March 2017), at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, made the following remarks:
"This afternoon I will meet again with President Trump's envoy, Jason Greenblatt. We are in the midst of a process of dialogue with the White House and our intention is to reach an agreed-upon policy regarding settlement construction. Agreed-upon for us, of course, not just for the American side. Naturally, this will be good for the State of Israel since we have not been in these processes for many years. To the residents of Amona, I reiterate: I gave you a promise to build a new community and I will honor that commitment.
On Sunday I am going to China together with five ministers. The visit is at the invitation of the Chinese President and it marks 25 years of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. I will meet with the Chinese President and Prime Minister and, of course, the ministers will meet with their counterparts. I will also meet with the heads of the biggest corporations in China and today, when we say the biggest corporations in China, we sometimes say the biggest corporations in the world, or which are quickly becoming the biggest in the world. We will continue the talks on establishing a free trade agreement between China and Israel and we will hold the third joint Israel-China innovation conference. Of course we are continuing to develop new markets and to open new markets for the Israeli economy. I expect all ministers to cooperate on this, and they are doing so.
Remapping the world
As stormy as the year 2016 ended for world politics and Israel, it doesn’t look like the storm will abate going into 2017 - at least at this point in time. In a desperate, last-ditch closing act, the Obama Administration invested great effort in the attempt to chisel its foreign policy convictions regarding the Middle East peace process in stone – thereby bypassing the will of the American people and the democratically elected US-Congress. To do that, Obama used the same back-road detour he used to push the Iran deal through, the UN Security Council. UNSC resolution 2334 established one single guilty party for the lack of peace – the State of Israel and Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and in East Jerusalem. The resolution declared the settlements to be “illegal according to international law” – a step that drew sharp criticism across the political spectrum in Israel as well as from the newly elected, but not yet sworn-in President-elect Donald Trump. The USA withholding its veto and simply abstaining in this vote marked a significant shift in American policy and position up to that point. (http://www.unwatch.org/joining-jackals-open-letter-amb-samantha-power/)
January 30, 2017 7:56am
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian officials are demanding an apology from the new United Nations chief after he said it was “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told Israel Radio in an interview Friday with its New York correspondent that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today,” including Judaism.
On Sunday, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Affairs minister, told the Chinese news service Xinhua that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa mosque of pure Islamic heritage.” He also said Guterres “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general … and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”