German Foreign Minister Responds to Netanyahu's Ultimatum: 'Regrettable' and 'Unthinkable' if Meeting Is Canceled

In Israel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel won't back down from meeting representatives of left-wing organizations

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, April 25, 2017.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, April 25, 2017. GALI TIBBON/AFP

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ultimatum on Tuesday, saying it would be "regrettable" if the latter decides to cancel their meeting because of Gabriel's meeting with representatives of left-wing Israeli organizations.

UPDATE: Netanyahu cancels meeting after German foreign minister refuses to snub 'critics of Israel' 

Gabriel who arrived in Israel on Monday, told German TV network ZDF that his planned meetings with representatives of B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence are "totally normal."

Gabriel, currently in Israel, said he had only learned of Netanyahu's threat from the media and noted it would be "inconceivable" for the German minister to cancel a meeting with the Israeli leader if the latter met with figures critical of the German government. He nevertheless said "it wouldn't be a catastrophe" if their meeting is canceled, and that it wouldn't change his ties with Israel.

"You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries," he said.

Gabriel later met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah and told reporters he hopes he will be able to meet with both Netanyahu and the left-wing groups on Tuesday.

Netanyahu is demanding that Gabriel cancel his planned meeting on with representatives of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu issued an ultimatum to Gabriel, saying that if the latter does not cancel his meetings with the left-wing groups, the prime minister won’t meet with him. The ultimatum was first reported by Israel Channel 2 News.