Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled talks on Tuesday with Germany’s visiting foreign minister after he rejected the Israeli leader’s demand not to meet left-wing groups critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation.
The dispute threatened to widen a rift between Israel and Germany over the Palestinian issue. Berlin has been increasingly critical of the settlement policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing government in territory Palestinians seek for a state.
“The meeting is canceled,” said David Keyes, a Netanyahu spokesman.
On Monday, an Israeli official had said Netanyahu would not see German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel if he decided to meet the Israeli group “Breaking the Silence.”
The organization, a frequent target of criticism by the Israeli government, collects testimony from Israeli veterans about the military’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and the influence it says Israeli settlers have on the army’s actions.
Gabriel said before the cancellation was announced that it would be “a remarkable event, to put it mildly,” if Netanyahu called off their meeting.