Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on Sunday said he will visit Gaza, in a rare trip to the Hamas-ruled territory by a Western leader, reports The Associated Press (AP).
In meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Arab officials Sunday, Steinmeier said he was concerned about the situation in Gaza, which is struggling to recover from last year’s war with Israel.
Steinmeier told President Reuven Rivlin that "concrete steps" are needed to improve daily life in Gaza. He also visited the Palestinian Authority (PA)-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, where he called for quick reconstruction of Gaza while also saying that rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel must be stopped.
The German foreign minister said he would head to Gaza on Monday. No talks with Hamas are planned, noted AP.
A program to reconstruct Gaza after last summer's war began late last year, with the sale of construction materials to 700 Gaza residents whose homes were damaged.
PA estimates say that as much as $6 billion will be required to repair the damage sustained during the conflict.
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu originally conditioned the rehabilitation of Gaza on its disarmament, the issue did not come up at an international donors’ conference on rebuilding Gaza, which was held in Cairo last October.
Israeli officials admitted that in reality, the rehabilitation of Gaza was not contingent upon its demilitarization but only on a ceasefire, adding that Israel will demand the demilitarization in return for the continued development of the coastal enclave.
Hamas, for its part, has threatened Israel with violence if the rebuilding process in Gaza is delayed.