Netanyahu Says He Won't Meet Foreign Leaders Who Meet NGOs Critical of Israeli Army

Statement follows PM's controversial snubbing of Germany's foreign minister over meeting with left-wing groups B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, May 29, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not meet with foreign leaders who meet with organizations “working against Israeli soldiers,” he told Likud lawmakers on Monday.

“I say to the leaders of the world, you can meet with organizations working against Israeli soldiers, but not with me,” said Netanyahu. “We take this stance with our best of friends.”

Last month, Netanyahu clashed with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after the latter met with anti-occupation veterans’ NGO Breaking the Silence and human rights group B’Tselem during his visit to Israel.

In the meeting of Likud MKs, Netanyahu related how he’d just met a young woman in Ofakim who asked him, “How can there be organizations working against Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the world?” 

The prime minister said he explained Israel’s "aggressive" foreign policy to her and added, “I believe this message is becoming pervasive and assimilated.”

Netanyahu said that a few days ago, he asked the director general of the Foreign Ministry to contact the Norwegian government to request that they withdraw the aid they give to a women’s organization named after Dalal Mughrabi, who led the Palestinian terrorist cell that carried out the Coastal Highway massacre in which 35 people were killed in 1978. “Norway’s foreign minister did just that,” he said.

After canceling his meeting with the German foreign minister in April, Netanyahu tried to call Gabriel to explain his position, but Gabriel refused to take the call. Later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her support for her foreign minister’s move.

At the time, Netanyahu called Gabriel’s meeting with the organizations tactless. “I think it was particularly insensitive to hold such a meeting during these days when we mourn our people who were murdered in the Holocaust and our fallen soldiers,” he said, referring to Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day. “The Israeli army is the only force that keeps our people safe today.”