Netanyahu Threatens To Skip German Talks If FM Meets ‘Breaking The Silence’
(REUTERS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened on Monday to cancel a meeting with Germany’s foreign minister if he sits down with a left-wing rights group.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel was due to meet with “civil society” groups in Israel on Tuesday, a Berlin spokeswoman said. Israeli media said Gabriel would meet with “Breaking the Silence,” a group that collects testimonies from Israeli veterans about the military’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the influence it says Israeli settlers have on the army’s actions.
Germany canceled a scheduled annual meeting of German and Israeli leaders in March amid rising frustration with West Bank settlement activity.
In February, Netanyahu ordered the reprimand of the Belgian ambassador after Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel met with Breaking the Silence and B’tselem, another rights group.
Both organizations have become popular targets for right-wing politicians who accuse them of damaging Israel’s reputation abroad and putting Israeli soldiers and officials at risk.
Israel passed a law in 2016 requiring non-government organizations that receive more than half their funding from foreign governments to provide details of their donations. The legislation was largely seen as targeting left-wing organizations such as B’tselem and Breaking the Silence and drew international criticism.