Netanyahu cancels meeting with German FM

2017-04-25 22:04
Benjamin Netanyahu. (Gali Tibbon, AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu. (Gali Tibbon, AFP)

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Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday cancelled a meeting with the visiting German foreign minister over the latter's plans to sit down with Israeli rights groups, sparking a rare diplomatic feud with one of Israel's closest and most important allies.

The last-minute cancellation cast a cloud over a visit that had been meant to draw attention to years of friendship between the two countries and co-incided with Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day.

An Israeli official said Netanyahu was upset that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel was meeting Breaking the Silence, a whistleblower group critical of Israeli military actions in the West Bank.

At a news conference with Israel's president, Gabriel made no mention of Netanyahu's snub. But earlier, he had said it would be "regrettable" if Netanyahu cancelled their planned talks in Jerusalem.

Gabriel has been Germany's foreign minister since January and its vice chancellor since 2013. This is his first visit to Israel in the new job.

Breaking the Silence is a group of former Israeli combat soldiers opposed to Israel's nearly 50-year occupation of the West Bank. The group publishes testimony, often anonymous, about what former soldiers say is the dark underbelly of service in the Palestinian territories.


Read more on:    sigmar gabriel  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  germany

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