Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who visited the German capital to attend a summit on Africa, held a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, during which he discussed with her – among others – the challenges pertaining to the Gaza Strip. Following their meeting, Chancellor Merkel stressed that even though both Berlin and Cairo maintain favor of a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such a solution looks unlikely, given the current circumstances on the ground. “We are also keeping an eye on the Middle East process. Today we spoke about Gaza and we are both in favor of a two-state solution – which looks quite difficult at the moment given the current circumstances,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
While an escalation over the past weekend between Israel and the Islamist organizations in Gaza pushed a long-term cessation of hostilities arrangement farther away; a relative quiet on Israel’s southern frontier prompted a decision by the Israeli Defense Ministry to once again ease the humanitarian restrictions on the Hamas-run territory. According to the Defense Ministry, Gaza’s fishing zone will be increased to six nautical miles in the northern enclave, and to nine miles in the southern part of the strip, after it was restricted to three miles in response to the latest escalation. A Defense Ministry source told TV7, the decision was made in line with Jerusalem’s decision: quiet will be met with humanitarian relief, while violence will be met with a disproportionate response.