Foreign Minister Westerwelle in the Middle East
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem (© Photothek/Trutschel )
On September 9 Foreign Minister Westerwelle met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem, and met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. The previous day Westerwelle had visited a refugee camp in Jordan that is sheltering refugees from neighboring Syria. He had also taken part in an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Paphos, Cyprus, which likewise dealt with the situation in Syria.
Along with the situation in Syria, the German Foreign Minister’s talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories focused on the Middle East peace process and concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. In his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Westerwelle praised the close relations between Germany and Israel, which are not only maintained at governmental level, but are also deeply anchored in the two societies. He described Israel and Germany as good friends tied together by a close partnership of values.
Concern about Iran’s nuclear program
Foreign Minister Westerwelle had an intensive exchange of views with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak. In their conversation Minister Westerwelle underscored that Germany shares Israel’s concerns over the Iranian nuclear program and that a nuclear-armed Iran was not an acceptable option. Westerwelle said on the margins of the talks that this was a matter not only of Israel’s security, but also of the security of the entire region and of the global security architecture.
He called upon Iran to return to the negotiating table. The possibility of a diplomatic solution remained open, he said, but would require substantial steps by the Iranian side and serious talks, and playing for time was unacceptable. “We want a political, diplomatic solution,” Foreign Minister Westerwelle stressed.
Middle East peace process must not be forgotten
Enlarge image Meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah (© Photothek/Trutschel) During the talks Minister Westerwelle made clear that the Middle East peace process must not be forgotten amidst the pressing questions of the Syrian conflict and the concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. “We need to advance the Middle East peace process,” Westerwelle said in Ramallah.
In this spirit, Westerwelle’s meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad focused on the Middle East peace process. Westerwelle praised Fayyad as a good, close partner of the German Government: “we appreciate his successful policies,” Westerwelle said, “which are laying the groundwork for the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state.” This, he said, was policymaking in the interest of peace. Foreign Minister Westerwelle said that the aim was a two-state solution as the outcome of negotiations.
The Minister’s visit to the Middle East took place in the run‑up to the United Nations General Assembly meeting, which will open in a few weeks in New York. Germany is chairing the UN Security Council for the month of September. The conflict in Syria, concerns about the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East peace process will all be important topics in the international community’s consultations in New York.