Sunday 4 January 2009

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sides with Israel over Gaza operation

Source: EJP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed Hamas for the latest conflict with Israel and said Germany would do all it could to promote peace in the Middle East.

In her New Year's address, Merkel said that "the terror perpetrated by Hamas is unacceptable."
She placed the blame for Israel's military operation on Hamas's rocket attacks and stressed that Israel has the right to defend it territory and citizens.

"The causes and consequences of the current round of violence in the Gaza Strip should not be forgotten," she said.

"But we should also not forget there is no rational alternative to the peaceful co-existence of Palestinians and Israelis in two states. This is in the interests of people on both sides," she added.

Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg said Merkel stressed in a telephone conversation late Sunday that Israel must do everything possible to avoid civilian causalities and insisted that Hamas must immediately halt its rocket attacks on Israel.

Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is a member of the Socialist Democratic Party (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner, urged Muslim nations to use their influence to help secure an end to Hamas's rocket attacks on Israel.

The Foreign Ministry said Steinmeier advocated a "humanitarian cease-fire" that would make it easier to get supplies to Gaza's civilians and open the way for diplomacy.

In response to the ongoing military operation in Gaza, a fresh wave of anti-Israel demonstrations fanned out across Germany on Friday and Saturday.

Around 8,000 protesters marched in Berlin and 10,000 in Frankfurt on Saturday, including members of the Left Party who waved party flags among banners equating Operation Cast Lead with a “second Holocaust,” some reading "Israel, go to hell", and others with a crossed-out Star of David with the words "Israel, child murderer."

A representiative of the 12,000-member Berlin Jewish community told the Jerusalem Post that the community has filed a criminal complaint asserting incitement against Jews.

Levi Salomon, who is in charge of monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, was present at the anti-Israeli protests and said, "We cannot accept anti-Semitic taunts" such as "Jews out."

Sacha Stawski, the editor-in-chief of Honestly Concerned, a German media watchdog monitoring anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, said he heard chants of "Gas the Jews" and "Merkel out," and witnessed the burning of an Israeli flag at the Frankfurt demonstration.

Merkel: The terror of Hamas cannot be accepted

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