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PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel’s Policy is ‘Proud and Assertive’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision to cancel a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday.

The Israeli leader had warned Gabriel that he would scrap their appointment if the German diplomat also met with members of anti-Israel NGOs Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

Responding to the ultimatum, Gabriel chose to meet with the NGOs, saying it will be no “catastrophe” if his talk with Netanyahu is cancelled.

Speaking later in the day at a meeting with contestants in the upcoming annual International Bible Quiz, Netanyahu said he was leading Israel’s foreign relations “to unprecedented growth.”

“But I am doing so based on a proud and assertive national policy, not out of weakness and with a bowed head,” he stated, referring to his cancellation of the meeting with Gabriel.

“My policy is clear: Not to meet with diplomats who visit Israel and meet with organizations that slander IDF soldiers and seek to put our soldiers on trial as war criminals,” Netanyahu said. “Those same diplomats would never dream of doing this in the US or UK, or in any other place. Our soldiers are the basis of our existence. They guard us and we will guard them.”

However, Israel’s relations with Germany “are strong and important and will also continue as such” and will not be affected by this incident, he added.

The Prime Minister’s office said that while diplomats are welcome to meet with representatives of Israeli society, Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organizations that call for the criminalization of IDF soldiers

“Imagine if foreign diplomats visiting the United States or Britain met with NGOs that call American or British soldiers war criminals. Leaders of those countries would surely not accept this,” the statement read.

Netanyahu’s policy is “not to meet foreign visitors who, on diplomatic trips to Israel, meet with groups that slander IDF soldiers as war criminals. Diplomats are welcome to meet with representatives of civil society but Prime Minister Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organizations that call for the criminalization of Israeli soldiers,” the statement continued.

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