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.
Palestinian leaders said on Tuesday Britain had rejected their request for an apology for a 1917 declaration that helped pave the way to the state of Israel, and they would pursue international court action unless London backtracked.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the apology in an address to the U.N. General Assembly in September, but Britain plans to hold celebrations along with Israeli officials to mark the Nov. 2 centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
“The answer came in a written letter to the (Palestinian) Foreign Ministry that the apology is refused,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to Britain, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Tuesday.
“It means the Queen and the government of Britain will not apologize to the Palestinian people.”
In the 1917 declaration, the British government said it viewed “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It also said .”..nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”
Palestine was under British rule when Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour made the policy statement in a letter to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community.
The first new Hebrew-German Jewish prayer book in over a century was unveiled in Berlin on Monday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The prayer book, called Tehillat Hashem, contains over 1,400 pages and took four years to write, according to Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, the book’s publisher and the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to the German capital. In addition to translations and explanations of prayers for weekdays, the Sabbath and holidays, it also includes Torah readings for Mondays, Thursdays and the Sabbath, as well as Pirkei Avot, the compilation of ethical teachings from Mishnaic rabbis.
While other German prayer books were published in the 20th century, this is the first since the 1800s to have all prayers in both Hebrew and German in one volume.
“Aside from the technical advantage of translating the prayers into German, I feel that one way to encourage the younger generation to join us in remembering and honoring the past is by linking memories of the past to a revitalized movement of Jewish spirituality,” Teichtal said in a statement. “(It) attests to the spiritual force and power of humanity, and of the Jewish nation in particular.”
The son of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said that the United States had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust because it has turned away Syrian refugees.
Elisha Wiesel, the son of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who died last year, made the remarks in a speech to the March of the Living program at Auschwitz on Monday for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Will you be a witness that history’s lessons are going unheeded, when many in both Europe and the United States want to turn away Muslim refugees fleeing chemical warfare in Syria?” he asked.
Elisha Wiesel, the chief information office of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., also commented on police treatment of African Americans in the U.S.
“Will you stand by when African-Americans have reason to be terrified of a routine traffic stop, when Christians are slaughtered in Egypt because they are labelled infidels, when girls in Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan are threatened, raped, or shot for pursuing an education, when homosexuality in Iran is a crime that carries the death penalty?” he said.
Ivanka Trump arrived for a G20 women’s summit on Tuesday in Berlin, where she is due to discuss support for women entrepreneurs with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.
Trump is an informal adviser to her father Donald, a highly unusual role for a U.S. president’s daughter. Last month she was pictured sitting next to Merkel during the German leader’s visit to the White House, which was characterized by awkward body language between the president and the chancellor as they tried to play down their differences on issues such as trade.
Trump will take part in a podium discussion with Merkel and Lagarde at the two-day summit, where other attendees include Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
The newspaper Berliner Zeitung said German officials would “certainly be hoping that the president’s daughter will convey a positive image of Germany to her father as a result of her short visit.”
Trump is seen as an increasingly important influence on her father and her husband, Jared Kushner, is a top adviser to him.—Reuters
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