“You cannot combat terror by military means alone”

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Federal Chancellor Scholz visits Israel and Jordan “You cannot combat terror by military means alone”

Federal Chancellor Scholz visited the region for the second time since the Hamas attack on Israel. The situation has deteriorated considerably since his last visit. The most important issues were the fate of hostages and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Joint press statement with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu

Joint press statement with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu: the Federal Chancellor visited the area for the second time since the Hamas attack on Israel.

Photo: Federal Government/Steins

Federal Chancellor Scholz returned to the Middle East at the weekend. After flying to Jordan on Saturday, he travelled on to Israel on Sunday. It was his second trip to the Middle East since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. 

However, the situation has deteriorated considerably since his last visit: “We know that there has been an incredible number of victims. It is therefore essential that we continue to speak about the situation in detail,” Scholz said. The talks focussed on the release of hostages and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

An overview of the topic can be found here, and more information about Federal Chancellor Scholz’ first trip to the Middle East following the attack on Israel in October 2023 can be found here.

Israel has the right to defend itself, but not at any cost

Soon after arriving in Israel, the Federal Chancellor met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two heads of state had talked on the phone a number of times, but nothing could replace a face-to-face conversation, Scholz said. 

It has been 163 days since the Hamas attack on Israel, and more than 100 Israeli citizens are held hostage by Hamas to this day. “They are in our thoughts and prayers, just like the more than 1,200 people who were brutally murdered on 7 October. We will not forget them,” Scholz stressed. 

It therefore has been and continues to be clear for the Federal Government that “Israel has the right to defend itself against the Hamas terror, and all hostages must be released”. 

The Federal Chancellor met relatives of some of the more than 100 people still held hostage by Hamas.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz met relatives of abduction victims in Israel.

Photo: Federal Government/Steins

“We cannot stand idly by and accept the risk of Palestinians starving.”

The Federal Chancellor also shared his concerns regarding the development, pointing out that the number of civilian victims had been high during the five months of Israel’s military operation. “Many would say it’s been too high.”

One thing is clear: Israel is pursuing a legitimate goal by fighting Hamas, Scholz said. However, the Federal Chancellor said that the desperate situation did pose the question of whether the goal could justify such a terribly high price. Denn: There was not only a military logic but a humanitarian logic, too, Scholz stated. In view of the imminent ground offensive on the city of Rafah, he asked: “How can more than 1.5 million people be protected? Where are they supposed to go?”

The Federal Chancellor spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu about the need to provide more comprehensive humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza, continuously and reliably. He pointed out there was an urgent need to massively improve supplies of aid from Israel to Gaza. “We cannot stand idly by and accept the risk of Palestinians starving,” Scholz urged.

In view of this situation, the Federal Chancellor pointed out that what was needed now was a hostage deal paired with an extended ceasefire. Full support would be given to Qatar and Egypt in their mediation efforts, Scholz said.

“You cannot combat terror by military means alone”

The Federal Chancellor clarified once again that the security of Israel is of vital importance to him, and that the Hamas terror therefore had to be fought. However, terror could not be combated with military means alone, Scholz pointed out, calling for a sustainable resolution of the conflict. This type of solution could not be achieved “with higher walls and deeper trenches,” Scholz said, adding that it would “emerge from a positive outlook for both Israelis and Palestinians”.

He therefore made a case for a two-state solution and sustainable peace, once again, saying that “Palestinian self-government, partnership with Saudi Arabia and other states in the region, and sustainable peace are key to Israel’s strategic security. Germany is standing side by side with Israel as a friend and partner.” 

In the afternoon, the Federal Chancellor had a number of further conversations in Israel, including a meeting with President Herzog. He also spoke to relatives of hostages and Israelis who were abducted.

Jordan: an anchor of stability and humanitarian aid partner

Prior to his talks in Israel, the Federal Chancellor had met with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Jordan. The Federal Chancellor had received the Jordanian King in Berlin in October and they have been in regular contact ever since, as Jordan has been playing a stabilising role as a mediator in the Middle East conflict for many years. 

The talks also focussed on the humanitarian situation of Palestinians and the search for a resolution of the conflict. Jordan is a key partner for Germany when it comes to supplying humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip. To enable Jordan to continue this work, the Federal Government is providing the Jordanian army with kerosene. In addition, two transport aircraft of the German Air Force are stationed in Jordan and have already been involved in their first few airdrops of supplies above Gaza.

Humanitarian commitment to the Gaza Strip: Germany is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid and development cooperation for the Palestinian territories. Humanitarian aid was recently raised to 238 million euros. However, it is urgently necessary that more aid reaches the Gaza Strip. This is why the Federal Government is also providing support for supply shipments via the sea and air route.