German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday arrived in Israel for meetings focused primarily on the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan. The first high-ranking European official to travel to the Jewish state since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Mass is expected to express extreme opposition to the unilateral application of Israeli sovereignty over any areas beyond the pre-1967 borders. He is slated to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. The trip comes in the wake of efforts by the European Union to sanction Jerusalem if the move is actualized, although analysts believe this reaction unlikely given the pushback from eastern members of the 27-nation bloc. While individual countries could still impose penalties, an Israeli official was quoted by news outlets this week as saying that Berlin would not do so. “The Germans are not in favor of sanctions and will not recognize a Palestinian state. They are pragmatic,” the official reportedly said, adding that “their main goal is to guarantee [regional] stability.… [and] to look for ways to encourage us and the Palestinians to return to talks.” Nevertheless, there are indications that the bilateral relationship could be harmed, with Germany – widely regarded as the most influential EU nation – having in the past gone to bat for Israel in Brussels. Following Wednesday’s discussions, Mass is scheduled to travel to Jordan.
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