German FM calls Israeli annexation illegal, but doesn’t threaten sanctions

Photo: AP German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gives a statement to the media following his meeting with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday restated his country’s opposition to unilateral Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, but stopped short of announcing possible punitive measures Berlin could take if Jerusalem goes ahead with its controversial plan.

Maas made a one-day trip to the region, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“I reiterated, and will continue to do that in my conversations today, the German position and explained our serious and honest worries, as a very special friend of Israel, about the possible consequences of such a move,” Maas said at press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem at the beginning of the day. “We share these views with our European partners, and we are of the view that an annexation would not be compatible with international law, and we therefore continue to stand for an agreed and negotiated two-state solution,” he added. “And to get closer to the goal of a negotiated agreement it needs new creative impulses to revive talks.”

Maas said Germany stands ready to help Israelis and Palestinians explore different ways to resume peace negotiations, stressing that he had come to the Middle East to listen to the sides and not to pronounce threats.

“I have not set up any price tags at all,” he said in response to a reporter’s question about possible sanctions, adding that the European Union member states have agreed to “seek dialogue” with all sides.

“Now is the time for diplomacy and for dialogue,” he said, adding that while he made the European position clear to his Israeli interlocutor, he does not believe in policymaking that is based on threats.



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