Germany’s foreign minister met with representatives of left-wing Israeli organizations, despite being asked by Israel’s prime minister to cancel such a meeting.
Sigmar Gabriel reportedly met with representatives of B’Tselem, a radical leftist orgaization, and Breaking the Silence, a veterans’ group that alleges the Israeli army abuses Arabs, late Tuesday. There was no media coverage of the meeting.
The office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, canceled a meeting with Gabriel when the visiting German official decided to keep his meeting with the NGOs.
Gabriel did not comment on the meeting with the NGOs. He also refused to take a call from Netanyahu after their meeting was canceled.
“The chancellor finds it regrettable that a meeting between Foreign Minister (Sigmar) Gabriel and Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Netanyahu did not take place,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters at a regular government briefing on Wednesday. “It should not be problematic for foreign visitors to meet with critical representatives of civil society.”
Merkel had canceled an annual joint government meeting between Israel and Germany that was scheduled for February, citing scheduling difficulties, though it was reported that the cancellation may have had to do with Germany’s dismay with Israel for not advancing toward a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
Following Gabriel’s meeting with the NGOs, B’Tselem released a statement in English calling on the international community to punish Israel for not giving up Judea and Samaria.