German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met Wednesday with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, in Jerusalem, during the first visit to Israel by a high-level European official since the start of thecoronavirus pandemic
Maas had intended to visit Ramallah as well to speak with Palestinian Authority officials. He decided not to visit Ramallah after Israeli officials told him that if he entered PA-controlled areas he and his staff would be required to enter a two-week isolation period the same as is required of Israeli citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.
The German minister's staff held consultations prior to his arrival and several leftist organizations and MKs even claimed that Israel was acting unlawfully and could change the rules for foreign dignitaries to ease the process for them.
However, the Health Ministry refused to change the rules for Maas, and in the end his visit to Ramallah was cancelled.
Mass will still meet with PA "Prime Minister" Mohammed Shtayyeh via ZOOM during his stay in Jerusalem.
The central topic of Maas' visit is Israel's plans to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Germany and the European Union are strongly opposed to the move,
Maas said that in his talks with Ashkenazi he stressed his government’s “serious and honest concerns” regarding the sovereignty plan, but said there would be no “price tag”, instead emphasizing that the purpose of his trip was to learn precisely what Israel intends to do.
"I came here to understand what this new government's plans are."