Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass on Wednesday that the Jewish state must retain security control over the West Bank in any peace deal with the Palestinians.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office published after the meeting in Jerusalem said the Israeli leader had “insisted that Israel’s vital interests — such as the need for complete security control west of the Jordan River — be upheld in a future agreement.”
It also noted that Netanyahu had said that “any realistic plan must recognize the reality of Israeli settlement on the ground and not foster the illusion of uprooting people from their homes.”
The two were also said to have discussed “halting financing for NGOs that are active against Israel.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz met separately with Maas. Gantz called the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal “a historic opportunity.”
“It must be advanced with responsible vision and maximum dialogue with the various parties in the region and as part of a wide international dialogue,” Gantz stated.
Maas arrived in Israel Wednesday morning and first met with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.
The top German diplomat’s visit was widely viewed as an attempt to “sound out” Israeli leaders in regard to possible annexation of parts of the West Bank, which Germany and the broader EU strongly oppose.
“I repeated here today the German position as well as our serious concerns as a special friend of Israel of the possible consequences of such a step,” Maas said at a press conference with Ashkenazi.
Ashkenazi said, “The [Trump] plan will be pursued responsibly, in full coordination with the United States, while maintaining Israel’s peace agreements and strategic interests.”