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German FM warns Israel over cost of occupation

President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) in Ramallah, occupied West Bank on 31 January 2018 [PALESTINIAN PRESIDENCY/Anadolu Agency]

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel today warned Israeli politicians, academics and policy experts of the price they will have to pay for Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Gabriel posed a number of questions to members of the high echelons of Israeli society over the future of the country.

“How do you want Israel’s future to look like? Are you prepared to pay the price of perpetual occupation and conflict – a price that will continue to grow if there is no hope for self-determination on the Palestinian side? Are you willing to bear the consequences of fully fledged annexation – a one-state reality of unequal rights? Or are you ready to accept a single democratic state between the sea and the river?”

The minister from Germany’s Social Democratic Party expressed concerns over the current Israeli government’s mixed message over the two-state solution. Gabriel said that mixed signals coming from the Knesset was a source of frustration in Europe.

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In addition to its ongoing settlement construction Israel has passed a number of legislations to annex the West Bank in contravention of international law. Earlier this month Israeli MPs submitted a new bill to that would seize territory belonging to Palestinians. The Knesset has also has passed the “United Jerusalem Bill” which makes it necessary for at least 80 MKs to agree to future changes in the status of the holy city in any future deal with the Palestinians.

These measures, as well as Israel’s claim to the entirety of Jerusalem, are the main source of discontent amongst European politicians. Gabriel encouraged Israeli politicians to see that their policy was leading the country into a blind alley and the prospect of an apartheid state.

Responding to the rhetorical questions, Gabriel remarked: “I admit that I am worried by these questions and especially by the lack of convincing answers so far.”

Gabriel concluded his comment adding: “Germany is looking forward to the day when it will be able to move its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But let me add: in two states with Jerusalem as their capital. There is no shortcut here. Both parties have legitimate aspirations with regard to Jerusalem, and a solution can only be found in negotiations. We believe this move must come in support of the implementation of a negotiated two-state solution based on the 67 line. Until then we will follow international law regarding the status of the occupied territories.”

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