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German, Israeli presidents discuss Gaza conflict, diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

February 16, 2024 at 8:15 pm

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) receives his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog at the Presidential Bellevue Palace, in Berlin on February 16, 2024 [ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images]

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosted his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog at Bellevue Palace on Friday for talks on the Middle East conflict and the latest developments in Gaza, Anadolu news agency reported.

According to a statement released by his media office, Steinmeier and Herzog discussed diplomatic efforts for the release of hostages held captive by Hamas, and the risks of a wider conflict in the region.

“We need a political perspective for the end of the war, for the security of Israel and the dignity of the Palestinians. The longer the war goes on, the less chance there is of that happening,” the statement quotes Steinmeier as telling his Israeli counterpart.

The leaders also discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where nearly 2 million Palestinian civilians have been displaced by Israel’s offensive in the besieged enclave.

Steinmeier called for the continuation of talks on a temporary ceasefire, and the release of Israeli captives held by Hamas.

Several media reports claimed on Friday that a deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of some hostages and Palestinian prisoners could be announced in a couple of weeks.

“The ‘ideal time’ to implement an agreement would be during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins March 10,” Israeli daily Haaretz claimed, citing official sources.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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