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Baerbock wants to boost faltering aid deliveries to Gaza

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants to boost the faltering aid efforts in view of the plight of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. "In view of the suffering in Gaza, we can no longer afford the discussion about where exactly the bottleneck is and who is to blame," said the Green politician on Tuesday in the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv after a visit to the Israeli Gaza border crossing Kerem Shalom.

Jordanian concept of direct passage

She was told by both the Egyptian and Israeli side "that the bottleneck is above all the reloading between trucks, where some are reloaded three times, inspected three times," said Baerbock. So "we need a way to stop this triple reloading". She said she would work to ensure that a Jordanian concept, in which small numbers of trucks drive directly into Gaza and are no longer reloaded at the border, is massively expanded. Germany will "pull out all the stops to ensure that this happens in the next few days". Until now, trucks coming from Egypt or Jordan have had to be reloaded onto Palestinian trucks before entering Gaza and transported onwards by Palestinian drivers.

More scanners for security checks

She had also made it clear to the Israeli authorities that she would work with the Netherlands, for example, to provide additional scanners with which the security checks could be carried out, said Baerbock. If necessary, European inspectors could also be provided. Germany is one of the largest donors of humanitarian goods.

Unfortunately, large parts of the food aid that Germany has financed through the World Food Program are in Jordan, for example. "We must now do everything we can to ensure that these goods that are there finally reach the people," Baerbock demanded. Aid for the World Food Program had been increased by a further 10 million euros.

The lives of the hostages and their families have been "hell for five months", said Baerbock. "The hostages must finally be released." At the same time, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is also "hell".

Frosty welcome at the meeting with Israel Katz

Baerbock continued her sixth visit to Israel since the terrorist attack by Islamist Hamas with a meeting with her colleague Israel Katz in the morning. During the meeting in Jerusalem, the current points of contention with the Israeli government were reportedly discussed in a clear tone behind closed doors: the UN demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate release of all hostages and more aid for the suffering civilian population. Baerbock is also likely to have addressed her efforts to achieve a future two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

In view of the difficult topics, even the public greeting between Baerbock and Katz seemed cool, professional and not very cordial. There was the usual handshake and a smile for the cameras. Baerbock and Katz barely made eye contact.

Israel's foreign minister: UN resolution strengthens Hamas

Katz believes that the UN Security Council's call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has strengthened Hamas and prompted it to reject a US compromise proposal on a new hostage deal. He told Israel's Army Radio that he was disappointed that the US had not vetoed the resolution. "We expect friends to strengthen us in this difficult time and not weaken us against Hamas and all the other enemies," Katz said.

Baerbock said that she had agreed with Katz to send a delegation to Israel to "discuss the pressing issues of international humanitarian law with the Israeli government". "As a signatory to the Geneva Convention, Germany is obliged to remind all parties of their duty to comply with international humanitarian law."

Baerbock: Palestinian Authority needs access to Gaza

During her trip, the Federal Foreign Minister demanded that the Palestinian Authority ruling the West Bank must continue to reform itself with a future technocratic government. However, she needed access to Gaza "and the certainty that Gaza and, above all, the West Bank are one". In this context, Israeli settlement construction was constantly opening up "new gaps and therefore also security risks". Baerbock criticized: "This is literally obstructing the two-state solution. It is literally obstructing peace." She also continued to campaign for violent radical settlers to face consequences.

According to media reports, the Israeli Civil Administration has declared 800 hectares in the West Bank to be Israeli state land. Among other things, hundreds of settler homes are to be built on the land. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The two-state solution refers to an independent Palestinian state that exists peacefully side by side with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects a two-state solution, as does Hamas.

Baerbock warns of ground offensive in Rafah

Following a meeting with her Egyptian colleague Samih Shukri in the capital Cairo on Monday, Baerbock once again explicitly warned Israel's government against the planned ground offensive in Rafah.

In Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, it is estimated that around half of the coastal region's 2.2 million inhabitants are seeking shelter from the fighting in other parts of Gaza in a very confined space. The army wants to bring the civilians to safety in "humanitarian islands" on the Mediterranean and provide them with food and medical aid.

©Keystone/SDA

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