Israel must not lose a “historic opportunity” for peace with Arab states due to its war against Hamas, Germany’s foreign minister said Friday as she embarked on a trip to the region.
Annalena Baerbock is making her third visit to the Middle East since Palestinian militant group Hamas launched its October 7 attack from the Gaza Strip, which sparked a conflict with Israel.
One of her stops will be the United Arab Emirates, which was among countries that normalised relations with Israel in 2020.
She will also visit Saudi Arabia, which had been in talks over a potential normalisation with Israel, until they were paused when the current war broke out.
In addition, Baerbock will visit Israel.
“In this almost unresolvable turmoil, it is crucial not to lose sight of the big picture,” she said.
“Israel’s historic opportunity for peace with its Arab neighbours must not be lost — because that is precisely the goal of the terrorists.
“And even in our efforts to secure the release of the hostages, humanitarian access to Gaza or the prevention of a regional spillover of violence — we only have a chance of success if we pull together with the Arab Gulf states.”
She also added that “only a return to the promise of living side by side — in two states — can bring Israelis and Palestinians alike a life of peace, security and dignity”.
A foreign ministry source said topics on the agenda during Baerbock’s tour will include efforts to free German nationals, several of whom are among the hostages taken by Hamas, as well as the “dramatic” humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Berlin has condemned the Palestinian militants’ attack and said Israel has the right to defend itself. Israeli officials say the Islamists killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, dead and took around 240 hostage.
Germany has also been among countries that called for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting to alleviate the suffering of people in Gaza. Israeli bombardment and a ground offensive have killed more than 10,800 people in Gaza, many of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Israel has agreed pauses in its offensive, US President Joe Biden said, but ruled out any broader ceasefire.