Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he tried to clear things up with the German foreign minister over a recent dispute by calling him but that he would not take the call.
Speaking to the German newspaper Bild on Friday, Netanyahu defended his decision to call off a meeting with Minister Sigmar Gabriel of Germany in Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday but said he later tried to call Gabriel “to explain my position and to clear things up.”
He said the German minister would not take the call, though.
Netanyahu had threatened that he would not meet with Minister Gabriel in Jerusalem al-Quds if the visiting top German diplomat met with members of rights groups. Gabriel said Germany would not “become a political football for Israeli domestic politics” and went ahead with the meetings anyway.
Netanyahu then proceeded to call off his meeting with Gabriel.
In the Bild interview, Netanyahu claimed, “Foreign diplomats are welcome to meet with civil society activists and members of the opposition and anyone else they’d like. But my red line is that I will not meet diplomats who come to Israel and lend legitimacy to fringe radical groups that falsely accuse our soldiers of war crimes and undermine Israeli security.”
Germany has already become frustrated with the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, despite repeated warnings from world powers that it would harm prospects for peace.
Last month, Berlin canceled an annual meeting of German and Israeli leaders planned for May.