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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Who will blink first - Netanyahu or German Foreign Minister?

Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to meet today with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Last night, Netanyahu issued an ultimatum saying he would cancel the meeting if Gabriel did not cancel meetings he has scheduled with European-financed anti-Israel NGO's. At first, it was reported that Netanyahu was referring to 'Peace Now,' but it now appears that it's even worse: Gabriel proposes to meet with B'Tselem and 'Breaking the Silence,' both of which are guilty of libeling Israel on the international stage.

Netanyahu was quite blunt.
“It’s time to make clear to Germany that we too have red lines,” the official told Arutz Sheva. “If it was a low-level meeting, it might have looked different. But when the Foreign Minister comes here and goes to meet with organizations that are working against the government's policy and against the Prime Minister's policy, this is unacceptable."
“The Prime Minister would never come to a country like Britain or Germany, where there are organizations that are working against the government's policy, and meet with the heads of those organizations. How would that country react if he did? There is significance to such a meeting held by a foreign minister,” the source continued.
Gabriel apparently plans to go ahead with his meetings with the anti-Israel organizations.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ultimatum on Tuesday, saying that it would be "regrettable" if the latter decides to cancel their meeting because the Gabriel's meeting with representatives of left-wing Israeli organizations.
Speaking to German TV network ZDF, Gabriel defined his planned meetings with representatives of B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence and "totally normal."
Gabriel said that he had only learned of Netanyahu's threat from the media and noted  it would be "inconceivable" for the German minister to cancel a meeting with the Israeli leader if the latter met with figures critical of the German government. He nevertheless said that "it wouldn't be a catastrophe" if their meeting is cancelled, and that it wouldn't change his ties with Israel.
"You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries," he said.
Netanyahu has plenty of support within the government.
Netanyahu’s ultimatum to Gabriel was backed on Monday by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said she "backs the Prime Minister's decision to set a red line regarding anti-Israel organizations such as B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence. This is an important struggle against those who defame Israel in the world."
MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), who heads the Knesset House Committee, expressed support for Netanyahu’s move as well, saying, "The German Foreign Minister and any other leader who wants to meet those who spread poison against Israel must understand: Legitimizing hatred of Israel is out of the question."
But of course the opposition thinks Netanyahu should meet with Gabriel anyway.

In my not so humble opinion, Gabriel ought to be declared persona non grata if he goes ahead with the meetings with Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem. The European - and particularly German (read I Sleep in Hitler's Room) - obsession with finishing the job that Hitler started (God Forbid) needs to be met head on. Especially on the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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