PM’s ultimatum to Germany causes ‘serious harm’ to ties, Herzog warns

Opposition leader Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog at the party faction meeting, March 20, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Opposition lawmakers lambaste Netanyahu’s demand that Berlin’s top diplomat cancel meetings with rights groups

The Times of Israel staff

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was dealing a heavy blow to Israel’s relationship with “a true friend,” after the premier threatened to boycott a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel if he meets with two Israeli rights groups during his visit to the country.

“Netanyahu is fleeing the playing field,” Herzog said on Twitter. “Netanyahu’s ultimatum to the German foreign minister seriously harms Israel’s ties to Europe’s largest economy and a true friend of Israel.” He called on the prime minister to meet with Gabriel “and present him with the Israeli position, without fear of one organization or another.”

Herzog added that whatever the outcome of the diplomatic standoff, he would be meeting with Gabriel Tuesday to “present my positions and Israel’s positions, to strengthen ties and uphold Israel’s reputation.”

Gabriel arrived in Israel earlier in the day to participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day events and was set to hold talks with Netanyahu on Tuesday. During his time in Israel, the German minister also planned to meet publicly with two prominent left-wing Israeli rights organizations, B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, both of which have been accused by the government in the past of working to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by lobbying international forums.

This prompted Netanyahu’s office to issue the ultimatum, according to a Monday report by Channel 2 news.

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