Left-wing Lawmaker Calls on Israel to Allow German FM to Visit West Bank Without Quarantine

Meretz's Tamar Zandberg says decision to effectively block Heiko Maas from going to Ramallah amounts to 'sabotage' after Israeli officials said German FM would have to self-isolate for two weeks following visit

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg speaking at a campaign event in Tel Aviv, 2019.
Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg speaking at a campaign event in Tel Aviv, 2019.Credit: Meged Gozani
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg asked Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday to reverse the government's decision and allow German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to visit the West Bank on his upcoming visit.

On Monday, Israeli officials said that, would Maas insist on visiting the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, he would have to be put in quarantine for two weeks on his way back to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport because of the coronavirus.

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In a letter, Zandberg argued “there was an intention to sabotage his meetings with the Palestinian leadership, using the excuse that a visit to Ramallah will require him to quarantine in Israel… even though he was supposedly meant to do so upon his arrival from Germany.”

She called the decision “ridiculous” and called on Ashkenazi to allow Maas to visit the West Bank.

On Saturday night, Zandberg addressed an anti-annexation protest in Tel Aviv, arguing that the move was not in the interest of either Israelis or Palestinians.

"This... will officially make Israel an apartheid state," she told protesters.

Germany, a key ally of Israel in international organizations, has expressed concerns at Israel's intention to annex large parts of the West Bank. Although the official purpose of Maas's visit is to become acquainted with his new Israeli counterpart, he is also expected to ask Israel to avoid putting Germany in a difficult position by pushing ahead with its intentions to annex lands in the West Bank. 

Diplomatic pressure has been mounting on Israel to at least delay the annexation process, with many international actors worried about the regional consequences of the move.

In May, Ashkenazi, a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who was elected to the Knesset as a co-leader in Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party, committed to push forward the Trump Mideast plan "responsibly, in coordination with the United States while safeguarding peace agreements and Israel's strategic interests."

He said that improving ties with Egypt and Jordan was especially important. Relations with Jordan have taken a major hit from the annexation prospects. Maas will also make a stop in Amman after visiting Israel this week.