JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel cancel scheduled meetings with representatives of left-wing Israeli organizations.
Netanyahu said he would cancel his meeting scheduled for Tuesday with Gabriel, who arrived in Israel on Monday, if he went ahead with the meetings with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
Netanyahu’s office told the German delegation it would not take action if a junior member of the German delegation kept the meetings. While Israeli officials say they made the ultimatum clear to the German delegation, Gabriel asserted that he only learned of it from the media.
Gabriel responded that it would be “regrettable” if Netanyahu cancelled their meeting but that “it would not be a catastrophe” either, and that it would not damage Israel-German ties.
“You can’t get a proper and comprehensive picture in any country on Earth if you only meet in government offices,” Gabriel said.
He also said that it would be “inconceivable” for a German minister to cancel a meeting with an Israeli official over a meeting with individuals critical of the German government.
Gabriel, who has called Israel an apartheid state, met with opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, and was scheduled to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Gabriel is scheduled to visit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan following his trip to Israel.
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