German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the international community to do more to defuse the conflict in the Middle East in an interview with DW on Monday.
Baerbock visited Israel three times since the outbreak of the conflict on October 7 when the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages.
In response, Israel launched an air attack and a large-scale ground operation in Gaza. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, more than 13,000 people have been killed in Gaza.
Speaking to DW’s Jaafar Abdul-Karim, Baerbock defended Germany’s opposition to a long-term ceasefire and stressed that priority must be given to humanitarian aid. to the inhabitants of Gaza.
More action is needed from the international community
“To guarantee security, we need international responsibility,” Baerbock told DW.
The German Foreign Minister stressed that the international community had assumed similar responsibility in other recent conflicts.
“We learned this from the terrible wars that took place in the Western Balkans in Europe. There too, the international community took responsibility to protect. It was also a situation in which the worst crimes were committed and the actors of the region had just lost all confidence. I see the same thing there (in the Middle East),” she said.
Calls are increasing internationally for an immediate ceasefire. However, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have instead advocated shorter deadlines. “humanitarian breaks” to allow much-needed aid into Gaza, arguing that a longer ceasefire could give Hamas time to regroup.
“For a ceasefire, Israel and Hamas would have to agree to stop shooting at each other. This would mean that Israel would no longer be able to defend itself against the continuous barrage of missiles,” Baerbock said, adding that “Israel must protect its population.
Gazans ‘must be protected’
Baerbock stressed that Germany was working with the United States and several Arab countries “to do everything possible to ensure that people in Gaza have safe places where they will not be killed, where they can have access to drinking water and medicines.
During a trip to Israel last month, shortly after the outbreak of the conflict, Baerbock said she had told the Israeli government “that the people of Gaza must be protected.”
“Their fight is against a terrorist organization, Hamas, which wants to destroy Israel, and not against the civilians of Gaza, the innocent people, the women and children, the innocent Palestinians,” she said.
Germany, along with Israel, the European Union, the United States and others, lists Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Baerbock also criticized the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank, which has been classified as illegal under international law by the International Court of Justice.
She urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do more to condemn violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.
“The Israeli Prime Minister must condemn settler violence. It must be criminally prosecuted. This is also in the interests of Israel’s security. In terms of security in the West Bank, Israel also has a responsibility to ensure so that the situation does not worsen further,” she said.
Criticism of Germany’s support for Israel ‘troubling’
Germany, which is one of Israel’s closest allies, faces growing criticism from groups both at home and abroad on its position on the war, with some accusing the German government of turning a blind eye to the situation in Gaza by staunchly supporting Israel.
Baerbock said she found the criticism “extremely disturbing” and highlighted Germany’s historical and moral responsibility to the Jewish people and the Israeli state following World War II and atrocities during the Holocaust .
“We are committed to international law, and we are committed to our German responsibility. And that means giving Jewish men and women, whom Germany tried to annihilate under the Nazi dictatorship, a safe country. “State of Israel, and that is why Israel’s security is Germany’s ‘reason of state,'” she said.
The term “reason of state” or “Staatsräson” is used to express Germany’s commitment to Israel as a fundamental part of Germany’s very current existence.
Baerbock said Germany’s support for Israel “in no way contradicts the defense of international humanitarian law and the universality of human rights.”
“That’s why I have said so clearly that every life has the same value, that the terrible images of Palestinian children keep me up at night, just as much as the thought of Israeli children being kidnapped.”
Interview by DW’s Jaafar Abdul-Karim
Edited by Rob Turner
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