German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas concluded his first official trip outside of the European Union since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to visit both State of Israel and its eastern neighbor, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
After initially meeting with Jerusalem’s top political brass, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as well as his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi; Berlin’s top diplomat traveled to Amman to inform the Kingdom, which serves as an unofficial patron of the Palestinians, on the Israeli plans for annexation of the Jordan Valley and a portion of the Biblical districts of Judea and Samaria – which constitutes about 30% of the disputed territories on the West Bank of the Jordan River, which the Palestinians demand for a future state.
In a joint press conference alongside the German top diplomat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi voiced a veiled threat toward Israel over its prospective sovereignty extension. “Annexation must not happen, and annexation must not go unanswered, because annexation will simply kill the Two State solution, undermine the foundation of the peace process, and deprive the whole region and its peoples of their right to live in peace,” he said.
Foreign Minister Maas, on the other hand, said that Berlin has “indicated that now is the time for diplomacy and dialogue, this is a critical time,” stressing “that this is not the time for the exchange of threats.” After having spoken to both sides the same day, he said he was “trying to find a way to achieve common ground or to reach a consensus, even if this appears to be difficult.”
Before his meetings in Jordan, which also included a trilateral video conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh; the German Foreign Minister held a single joint press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, during which he highlighted the joint position of Germany and the European Union over prospects of Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
“Together with the European Union we believe that an annexation would not be compatible with international law. That is why we continue to support a mutual two-state solution,” he said.
While Minister Maas highlighted Berlin’s unyielding support for the so-called ‘Two State solution,’ Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi emphasized that “there are currently significant regional opportunities and challenges, most notably U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace initiative,” which he said “is an important milestone for the region, and it represents a significant opportunity, the plan will be pursued responsibly in a full coordination with the United States while maintaining Israel’s peace agreement, the existent and the future one and strategic interests, we intend to do it in a dialogue with our neighbors.”
The top Israeli diplomat further asserted that his nation “wants peace and security,” and that “we expect the international community to make it clear to the Palestinians that their refuse to engage will not advance Palestinian interests.”
In addition to their respective statements in all that pertains to the Israel-Palestinian conflict; both Ministers Maas and Ashkenazi also addressed the regional challenges vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Germany’s top diplomat reiterated Berlin’s determined perception that the 2015 nuclear deal is the only mechanism able at this stage to thwart Iran’s pursuit of atomic arms; even though Tehran clearly and openly abandoned its so-called obligations more than six months ago.
“We all want a nuclear weapon-free Iran,” said Maas, stating “That is our overall goal and we continue to believe that with the nuclear agreement we have a way to reach that goal. If that agreement did not exist Iran would possibly already possess nuclear weapons. That is why we believe it makes sense to continue to demand from Iran to stay with this agreement and above all to stick to its responsibilities.”