EU Foreign Ministers Arrive in Israel to Show Solidarity

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his German counterpart Heiko Maas speak as they stand inside a damaged apartment during their visit to the site of a building hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip last week, in Petach Tikva, Thursday. (Foreign Ministry)

The foreign ministers of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia arrived in Israel on Thursday in a show of solidarity and support of Israel.

The three diplomats were invited by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Their visit to Israel comes on the heels of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’s visit to the country earlier in the week.

Additional visits by other foreign dignitaries are expected next week, as part of Israel’s effort to strengthen its legitimacy during the current round of fighting against Gaza’s terrorist factions.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass was the first to arrive, followed by the Czech Republic’s Jakub Kulhánek and Slovakia’s Ivan Korčok.

The diplomats will meet with Ashkenazi and will travel to a crash site of a Hamas rocket to witness the destruction firsthand. Later, they are expected to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Maas himself is also slated to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah.

“The foreign ministers’ visit to Israel is a demonstration of solidarity and support for Israel’s right to defend itself following Hamas’s rocket fire,” Ashkenazi said.

“This is further proof of the broad support and legitimacy Israel receives from foreign countries during these days of fighting. This is thanks to the diplomatic and political effort led by Israeli ambassadors around the world and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.”

In a speech to the German Parliament Tuesday, Maas said that Hamas was the one that deliberately led to the escalation in the Middle East, with dire consequences. Maas also ruled out talking to Hamas.

“After the events of recent days there is no reason to talk directly with Hamas,” said Maas. “Those are terrorist attacks that are being carried out by Hamas in Israel and which in my view completely rule out talking without intermediaries, directly to Hamas.”

He also condemned anti-Semitic attacks on German soil and said his country takes the issue seriously.

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