Sunday, December 13, 2009
German diplomats urge tougher stance on Israel
A group of former German diplomats urges the Berlin government to take a harder line toward Israel over its illegal settlement expansions.
According to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 24 former diplomats and ambassadors have signed a petition urging Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to help "fair peace" in the Middle East.
Among the diplomats who singed it were Hans-Georg Wieck, former chief of Germany's Federal Intelligence service (BND), and German ambassadors Gerhard Fulda and Michael Libal.
"Israel cannot expect to emerge a winner of peace and at the same time to keep the Palestinian territories," the diplomats said in the document obtained by the Munich newspaper.
"The continuation of certain benefits or financial support to one side or the other, as well as an increasing convergence with the European Union, could be made dependable on concrete progress in conflict management," the petition added.
Former ambassador Michael Libal told German television, "We are not against Israel, we're just for peace in the Middle East."
Currently, he said, the principle of solidarity can be interpreted as supporting every Israeli policy by any Israeli government.
"I think, in the long run, we'll do Israel a greater service by participating in the international effort to achieve peace," the diplomat added.
German diplomats had been secretly complaining for quite a while, that Germany thwarts any attempts to force Israel to adhere to international agreements.
Deutsche Welle Online cited a consumers ban on settlement-produced goods by some European countries, which Germany hindered, as well as Germany's efforts within EU bodies to curb the growing criticism of Israel's the settlement policy as examples .
They added that because of historical reasons, Germany has committed itself as 'an obligation of history' to stand up for Israel's security.
They argued that 'genuine security' could only be achieved by 'political means, not by occupation and settlement.'
The diplomats also said that Israel could no longer seriously claim that its existence would be threatened by the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israeli peace activists have welcomed the letter. Activist Uri Avnery, a veteran of Israel's 1948 war and a former Member of the Knesset, voiced support for the letter, calling on Berlin to stop pampering the "state of the victims."
The founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement and winner of the 2001 Right Livelihood Award, often called the "alternative Nobel Peace Prize" added that "There are many ways for the German government to show its friendship to the Other Israel, the Israel that seeks peace and human rights for all."
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman of Rabbi's for Human Rights has also supported Avnery's view telling reporters in Jerusalem Al-Quds that "a real friend will not allow a drunken friend to drive."
"A true friendship does not mean that you d allow your buddy to do anything he wants, in my view by supporting Israel the international community has only encouraged Tel Aviv's self-destructive behavior," he added.