German FM heading to Israel, Palestinian territories Thursday

Published: 09:06 PM, 19 May, 2021
German FM heading to Israel, Palestinian territories Thursday
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories for talks Thursday on the escalating conflict in the Middle East, a ministry spokeswoman said.

"The political talks will focus on the current escalation in the Middle East and the international efforts to end the violence," the spokeswoman said. 

Maas will meet Israel's foreign and defence ministers as well as President Reuven Rivlin. 

He will also travel to the city of Ramallah to hold talks with the Palestinian premier.

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, Maas spoke of his plan to "hold talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah" but had said that the trip was yet to be confirmed with Israeli authorities. 

The visit would be the first by a senior European official to Jerusalem over the latest escalation of violence in the Middle East.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was previously the country's foreign minister, however expressed doubts over the impact of Maas' visit.

"Germany must use its relations in the region," he said, but pointed out "the Middle East Quartet has been activated and Europe is part of it".

"I have my doubts as to whether individual nations should make their own mediation efforts," he added.

Israel and the Palestinians are mired in their worst conflict in years as Israel pounds the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery, while Hamas militants lob rockets into the Jewish state.

The conflict has claimed 219 Palestinian lives according to the Gaza health ministry and killed 12 people in Israel according to Israeli police.


Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.