Deep and “unbreakable” ties between Germany and Israel are part of Germany’s national identity and pillars of its foreign policy, but Berlin will continue to press for a two-state solution, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday.
“With respect to the Middle East conflict, our solidarity with Israel also means working to ensure that Israel and Palestine can live side by side in dignity and peace,” Gabriel said in a statement released as he departed for the region.
“Only a two-state solution will be sustainable,” he said.
Gabriel’s visit, his first since becoming foreign minister in January, comes as German concerns about Israeli settlement building have dragged ties to their lowest point in years.
German governments have made strong relations with Israel a top priority ever since World War Two, going to great lengths to make amends for the killing of six million Jews by the Nazis.
Gabriel will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Monday and meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel and Palestinian government officials, his spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters on Friday.
“We do not believe that the current situation is sustainable,” Schaefer said. “We think it’s necessary to make another attempt to revive talks and negotiations in the framework of the Middle East process.”
SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A retailer in the Australian North Queensland city of Cairns displayed a sign in its window saying that it does not serve Israelis.
Israeli tourist Mohr Wenger posted a photo of the sign in the window reading “No Israelis served here” on Facebook.
Wenger wrote in her post that she and a friend with whom she was traveling around Australia entered a body piercing store to have their noses pierced only to be told by the owner that he would not serve them since they were from Israel.
The owner of the Cold Steel Piercing store told the women that “he doesn’t serve Israelis. He said he doesn’t agree with what our government does and there for we are not welcomed in his shop. He even pointed out a sign that we missed saying ‘No Israelis served here,’” Wenger wrote.
“A sign that means ‘I don’t want to listen, I don’t care who you are but if you are from Israel go away.’ That’s sugarcoating anti-Semitism. That’s sugarcoating racism,” she also wrote.
An Israeli attack against a military base for the Syrian pro-government National Defence Forces in southern Syria killed three NDF members on Sunday, the NDF militia and a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said it remained unclear if the source of the bombardment in Quneitra province was an air strike or shelling.
Israel has carried out air strikes or fired mortar rounds during the six-year war in Syria, often in response to the occasional spillover, including stray shells from fighting among Syrian factions.
The Israeli military declined to comment on the reports. The Syrian army could not immediately be reached for comment.
The NDF said the attack struck its military camp in the countryside of Quneitra, which sits near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, territory that Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war.
Rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s government in the Syrian conflict hold swathes of Quneitra, while the army and pro-government forces control another part of the province.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian man stabbed four people in Tel Aviv in two separate attacks.
The assailant, identified by police as an 18-year-old Palestinian, was captured and arrested.
The attacks took place in two hotels along the Tel Aviv beachfront promenade, located near the U.S. embassy on the same street.
Three of the injured are in their 50s and one is 70, Magen David Adom said, and are in light condition. The injured Israelis were taken to Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv.
During a visit to a Rome basilica, where he met migrants, Francis told of his trip to a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last year.
He met a Muslim refugee from the Middle East there who told him how “terrorists came to our country.” Islamists had slit the throat of the man’s Christian wife because she refused to throw her crucifix on the ground.
“I don’t know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration (type) because of the great number of people left there inside them,” the pope said.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) later urged the pope “to reconsider his regrettable choice of words” for using the term concentration camp.
“The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II,” the AJC’s head, David Harris, said in a statement. “There is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy,” he said.
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