(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jerusalem over the minister’s plans to meet with the anti-IDF group Breaking the Silence.
“The Israeli ambassador has informed us that—to my regret—the meeting with Netanyahu has been canceled,” Gabriel told Germany’s Bild newspaper.
Earlier, Netanyahu had issued Gabriel an ultimatum to cancel his meeting with Breaking the Silence, a far-left organization that recruits former Israeli soldiers to speak about alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians.
Gabriel met Tuesday with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and vowed to not let the incident with Netanyahu affect relations between the countries.
“We are committed to the friendship, partnership and special relationship with Israel, and nothing will change that,” Gabriel said.
Rivlin said Israel, as a democratic state, welcomes criticism, but it must be based in reality. He told Gabriel the IDF “is an army made up of all our children. We know how to maintain our army as the most moral in the world, and we will continue to do so.”
During an election campaign in 2012, Gabriel, who previously served as chairman of the left-wing Social Democratic Party, called Israel an “apartheid regime” in a Facebook post.
Netanyahu’s decision was backed by members of his Likud party and governing coalition. Knessett Speaker Yuli Edelstein tweeted that Breaking the Silence spreads “anti-Israel propaganda,” and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the group “is not an anti-Netanyahu organization; it’s an anti-IDF one.”