German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed Berlin’s rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, stressing the need to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through negotiations.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Gabriel said Saudi Arabia presented “a very important peace vision in 2002 - the Arab Peace Initiative - which contains the central elements of the Arab-Israeli conflict resolution and the establishment of a regional security framework.
Those who seek to resolve the conflict between Israel on one side and the Palestinians and Arab countries on the other side must take these elements into consideration, according to the German foreign minister.
“We are fully convinced that the two-State solution through negotiations, while respecting the aspirations of both sides, is the only realistic way to achieve lasting peace and security,” he stated.
On the bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, Gabriel said: “Relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia are not only central to us at the bilateral level, they are also important at the regional level. We are moving in the same direction with respect to the important foreign policy files, for example combating the so-called Daesh (ISIS).”
“Our relations are so important and strong that we can certainly bear some differences of views on individual issues from time to time. We must not allow divisions between us,” the foreign minister said, referring to statements he made about the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and which were condemned in Riyadh.
Gabriel emphasized that Berlin and Riyadh have agreed on the need to counter Iran’s political role in the region, adding that his country wanted to confront Iranian threats in partnership with the US.
“We are very concerned about Iran’s external political role in the region. I said so clearly during my visit to Washington a while ago. We want to confront the problem of the Iranian role in the region in partnership with the Americans, without harming the nuclear agreement. In this context, we have clearly expressed our condemnation of Iran’s missile tests, as they are in no way consistent with Security Council Resolution 2231,” he stated.
With regards to Lebanon, the German minister said his country shared Saudi Arabia’s concern over the role of Hezbollah in the region. He positively assessed, however, the return of Hariri to Beirut and his ability to obtain the commitment of all Lebanese parties to abide by the policy of dissociation from regional conflicts.
On the crisis between the Arab Anti-terrorism Quartet and Qatar, Gabriel emphasized that his country wanted a “strong and unified Gulf Cooperation Council.”
“We believe that it is possible for all parties to find common ground again when they sit around the table. Germany has never been a party to this conflict and has continuously supported the Kuwaiti mediation and related initiatives launched by the United States,” he said.
Regarding the Syrian file, Gabriel noted that negotiations on the political transition in Syria would not begin with the resignation of Bashar al-Assad, “and the opposition recognized this at its last meeting in Riyadh.”
He stressed that the Syrians themselves have to agree on Syria’s political future.
“However, I can understand the opposition’s rejection of the idea that the man, who mercilessly fought his people, continues to govern the country in the future,” he said.
The German foreign minister condemned the launching of a ballistic missile by the Houthis on Riyadh, pointing out that his country’s goal in Yemen was to restore peace and stability and the return of the legitimate government to Sanaa.
“A long-term solution to the conflict can only be found through political means: through comprehensive negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Special Envoy, whose efforts are fully supported,” he said.