Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle Tuesday. Before they met, they spoke in the presence of reporters.
"I’m very pleased to see you again, Guido," said Netanyahu. "You’re an old friend and Germany has been constant, supportive, clear-sighted and upright in support and we appreciate it. As we speak right now, Israel’s cities are bombarded. There were rocket attacks on Be’er Sheva. Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza have no compunction whatsoever at firing on our civilians while hiding behind civilians. We do the very opposite.
"For us, every time there are civilian casualties, that’s an operational failure. For them, every time there are civilian casualties, that’s an operational success. So there’s a marked distinction and the people of Israel can’t long tolerate this kind of situation where our cities are under constant rocket attacks.
"I prefer a diplomatic solution. I hope that we can get one but if not, we have every right to defend ourselves with other means and we shall use them. I believe that Germany can have a constructive role in seeking an end to this conflict in a long-term arrangement such that these terror weapons are not introduced into the Gaza strip. And I hope to discuss this with you, among other matters. As you know, we seek a diplomatic unwinding to this, through the discussions of cease-fire. But if the firing continues we will have to take broader action, and we won’t hesitate to do so."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle answered, "I’m here to underline that Germany stands by our friends in Israel, and Israel has every right to defend itself and protect their own citizens against these missile attacks from Gaza into your country, Prime Minister. Of course we now have to consider and discuss how a cease-fire is possible. But there is one key condition for everything else, and that is the stop of the missile attacks against Israel.
"This is a clear message," he added, "not only of the German Government but this is also the message what the European Foreign Minister yesterday sent out. We will do our best and we welcome what you just mentioned, that you seek and work on a diplomatic solution, there’s something with which we 100% agree. But now, of course it’s also important to see that Egypt plays a key role. Germany is ready to help and to support and we will do our best in the interest of our friends in Israel."