Netanyahu has threatened to cancel an upcoming meeting with Germany’s FM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to cancel an upcoming meeting with Germany’s foreign minister unless the visiting diplomat cancels an appointment with two extreme-left wing groups critical of Israel.
A senior Israeli official confirmed the prime minister said to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that he would scrap their meeting scheduled for Tuesday if Gabriel met with members of non-governmental organizations, Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.
Responding to the ultimatum, Gabriel said it would be “regrettable” if Netanyahu cancels the meeting. He described the encounter with anti-Israel organizations while in Israel as “completely normal.”
Gabriel said it would be “unthinkable” to cancel meetings if Netanyahu met government critics in Germany. But he said a cancellation of Tuesday’s meeting would not be a “catastrophe,” and wouldn’t change his relationship with Israel.
Gabriel said: “You can’t get a proper and comprehensive picture in any country on Earth if you only meet in government offices.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely supported Netanyahu’s decision.
“I back the prime minister’s decision to lay down a red line concerning anti-Israel organizations like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. This is an important campaign against those who defame Israel around the world,” she said.
A source at the Prime Minister’s office told Israel’s Channel 2 “Israel lays down a clear policy, despite its close ties with Germany — with the aim of preventing the erosion caused by meetings between European representatives and these organizations.”
Gabriel arrived in Israel on Monday to participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day events and meet with local leaders.
Breaking the Silence, an anti-Israel organization is comprised of veteran IDF combatants who have served since the start of the Second Intifada and are ostensibly committed “to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”
They are financed by foreign bodies and countries, including Germany.
While claiming that their goal is to “raise awareness over the everyday reality of serving in the [so-called] occupied territories and to create a discussion about the cost of military control over a civilian population for so many years,” the NGO refuses to post the names of the soldiers who testify.
They have also refused to pass along their accounts to the IDF’s Military Advocate General’s Corps for investigation, despite repeated requests by senior IDF officials. Instead, Breaking the Silence members routinely go abroad to spread their allegations instead of taking their complaints directly to the IDF or civilian courts.
B’tselem is supposedly a human-rights organization known to publish propaganda against the Jewish state and the IDF.
In February, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel used his state visit in Israel to meet with organizations that operate against the Jewish state. Israel was swift to react and Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s foreign minister, instructed the Ministry to reprimand Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle.
Israel views the incident “with utmost gravity,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “The Belgian government needs to decide whether it wants to change direction or continue with an anti-Israel line.”