Ceasefire holds: Merkel calls for political dialogue in the Middle East

Truce holds
Merkel calls for political dialogue in the Middle East

Hamas has not attacked Israel since early Friday morning. The country, on the other hand, does not fly combat missions in the Gaza Strip. Germany also welcomes the ceasefire – but at the same time calls for “substantial political” talks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German government have welcomed the ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and militant Palestinians. “That is good news. Now the point has to be that this ceasefire is also respected, that it lasts,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin. “It is now also important that humanitarian aid for the people in the Gaza Strip can now continue quickly.”

In addition, work should continue on a substantial political dialogue, demanded the federal government after the words of Seibert. Only a political two-state solution could resolve the causes of the conflict. All sides should keep this goal in mind.

After eleven days of fighting, a ceasefire brokered by Egypt came into effect at 2 a.m. local time (1 a.m. CEST). By morning no new rocket alarms had been raised in Israel for a fire by Palestinian militants, and no further Israeli attacks were recorded in the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire was approved by the Israeli cabinet and the leadership of the Islamist Hamas organization in Gaza. The 11-day exchange of blows killed 232 people in Gaza and 12 people in Israel.

Blinken travels to Israel

Meanwhile, after the ceasefire has come into force, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to hold talks in the region shortly. His Israeli counterpart Gabi Aschkenasi tweeted that Blinken had informed him about his visit plans. It is a continuation of “our discussions on how to advance regional strategic issues in order to guarantee Israel’s security and regional stability”. Blinken’s talks should also be about a longer-term calming of the situation.

Russia also welcomed the ceasefire, but at the same time called for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. A renewed conflict can only be prevented through talks between the two parties, said the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Sakharova, according to the Interfax agency in Moscow. “International and regional efforts should now focus on creating conditions for the resumption of direct political negotiations.”

Moscow sees the so-called Middle East Quartet from the USA, Russia, the United Nations and the EU as mediators. Sakharova described the end of the fighting as an important step. But it is still insufficient “to avoid another spiral of violence”. What is needed is a sustainable and fair solution.