Why do most of the French support Palestine?

middle EastAsselborn: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must have priority again

The Hamas organization shot down more than 3,000 rockets on Israel, and the Israeli armed forces flew hundreds of air strikes on targets in Gaza. More than 200 people have been killed so far. Internationally, there is growing pressure on both sides to reach a ceasefire. The European Union is also calling for an end to violence, but the member states are not entirely in agreement. Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Luxembourg have been criticizing Israeli politics for years and are supporting the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with many millions of euros. The Netherlands, Germany, Austria and also the Eastern European countries, especially Hungary, are considered more pro-Israel.

(Deutschlandradio / Benjamin Hammer) Middle East - The background to violence
Israel and the Gaza Strip are the scene of the worst clashes in years. Current triggers were threatened evictions of Palestinian families and Jewish celebrations on the Temple Mount.

The Luxembourg Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, made it clear in the Dlf that there was no authorization to fire rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The problem is that for years there has been no hope in the region for a two-state solution or a process that would allow Israelis to live in peace and quiet in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was very much to blame for this, because Asselborn said he worked with US President Donald Trump to destroy everything that would have given the people of Palestine any hope. Since young Palestinians protested at the second intifada on the Temple Mount in 2000, the situation has remained the same. Now their children are protesting. The world, but also the Europeans and Americans, must care that there is justice between Israel and Palestine.

The interview in full length:

Dirk Müller: Mr. Asselborn, are you a party?

Jean Asselborn: Are you party? That is, is the European Union a party?

Müller: No she!

Asselborn: Yes sure! I am a party in the sense that, of course, the violence must be stopped now, but that we then have to deal directly with the substance of this problem again. We haven't done that in recent years, even as the European Union.

"No more glimmer of hope for a two-state solution"

Müller: Are you Pro Palestinian?

Asselborn: No, I am human. I am neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israel. I am human. I know who is suffering the most, and I know that there is another way to solve this problem, which we call Israel-Palestine, which needs a peace process and where the international community needs to get involved again.

Müller: Netanyahu's settlement policy is cancerous, you said. Would you say that again?

Asselborn: Yes! That's the reality! - Do you know whether we are Germans, Luxembourgers, Europeans, we have to ask ourselves what are the reasons why this same scenario is repeated in 2008/9, 2014, 2021. We cannot avoid the fact that we hold on to the fact that the Palestinians have been under occupation since 1967, for 54 years - in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, in Gaza they are even imprisoned. And we also really have to look into the eyes of the fact that since 2014 - it was John Kerry, who made another attempt - there has been no more glimmer of hope for a two-state solution or a process that would allow Israelis to enter Israel in peace and quiet, to live in dignity, with Jerusalem as capital, and the Palestinians Palestine within the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as capital.

"Netanyahu has a very big debt"

Müller: Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame?

Asselborn: You know, Netanyahu has a very big debt, because under Trump they worked together to destroy everything that allowed any hope, any motivation for the people of Palestine. His settlement policy is like I said. Ar by ar hectare and hectare is being taken from the Palestinians. The houses that don't fit will be demolished. It comes to the point, as we have seen in East Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah, that Israeli settlers put the flag on the house of the Palestinians and say get out of here now. That means that the fear that the Palestinians will no longer be tolerated in East Jerusalem is very great, and that is something, I believe, where more and more Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing the button to humiliate the Palestinians, and that leads to what we have now. The Hamas rockets are a sign that something is happening here that cannot be tolerated any longer.

Müller: Is there a reaction for you? - Eligible?

Asselborn: No! There is no justification, no justification for firing rockets from Gaza at Israel. There is no authorization for it. Of course, but we have to take a look, to be clear: Palestinians live in Gaza. If that were Germans, French, and Luxembourgers who have been locked up here for years and years, without motivation, without seeing that there is any way out of this situation, then people like Hamas who manage to convince the Palestinians of course that only violence helps, that it works. This is something that we cannot continue to endure, and I believe that there are very, very many people in Israel who do not agree with this situation. I believe that in recent years we have only seen Iran, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and we actually as an international community, including the European Union, have put the problem of the few million Palestinians back in third or fourth place. This is something that we really need to see as a priority again in substance to restore integrity in this region.

"It's not the first war to break out"

Müller: Have you also expressed yourself critical of Iran in the past few days, which support the whole thing, support the missiles, support the arms deliveries, support the logistics, support financially?

Asselborn: Yes! It is very clear that this is not possible, that it cannot be tolerated at all and that these are criminal acts, and that those who stand behind Hamas and supply weapons are, for me, people: they are terrorists. It is very clear! The only problem is that it is not enough for us to say Hamas, Hamas, Hamas. There is something behind it that is deeper. It's not the first war to break out. I said yes. It was 2008/2009, it was 2014, and it is now. And you know, the young Palestinians who protested on the Temple Mount at the second Intifada in 2000, now their children are protesting there and the situation is still the same. In the world, but also as Europeans and I hope as Americans, we have to see that justice between Israel and Palestine is something that we have to take care of.

Müller: Mr. Asselborn, you said "cancerous ulcer". You said something else: settlement policy is just like the annexation of Crimea. Still valid for you?

Asselborn: No, you're confusing a little.

Müller: Has been criticized, I've read up on it.

Asselborn: Last year it was said that Mr. Netanyahu intends to annex areas from the West Bank. The area off the West Bank, that is, in the Ramallah region. I have said that if Israel does that, there is no difference between annexing areas in the West Bank and what happened in Crimea. I said that and I still stand by it.

"Israelis and Palestinians at one table"

Müller: Heiko Maas said, I don't see it that way. Do you have any differences of opinion with the German Foreign Minister?

Asselborn: The German Foreign Minister - I know what the burden is on the German Foreign Minister, on every German Foreign Minister. But if he sees it differently, fine. Annexation, whether it is in Crimea or in the West Bank, I don't see any difference in the matter.

Müller: What do you mean by the burden? Does that mean that the Germans cannot make an objective Israel policy?

Asselborn: The Germans are natural - you have to know that; I've been there for 17 years and I've seen from Joschka Fischer to Heiko Maas, but of course also Mr. Steinmeier, how difficult it is, and I understand all of it. But you know, we have to be careful. If we have a problem with Berlusconi, we are not against the Italians. If we criticize Mr Netanyahu's policy, on the matter of settlement policy, for example, then we are not against Israel and we are definitely not people - I do not want to say the word - who have something against the Jews. We are in favor, the people who criticize this, are in favor of this peace process finally getting back on its feet in Israel and that we approach the matter rationally and know in our heads - and this is what Federal President Steinmeier said - that we are very much We have to quickly create an instrument again, and I see, like him, that the Quartet, that is America, Europe, Russia and the UN, is sitting down again and is seeing that Israelis and Palestinians can sit down at the same table again. I know we need elections in Palestine, but I also know that we need a government in Israel. I know all of this, but the framework needs to be re-established.

"German politics must show consideration"

Müller: That has happened many times before. You mentioned the Middle East Quartet. Nevertheless, my question again: Do you think that German policy, German foreign policy, shows too much consideration for Israel?

Asselborn: German politics must be considerate, as must Luxembourg politics and, like all European politics, consider Israel. It's not about questioning Israel's right to exist.

Müller: Nobody in Europe does that.

Asselborn: Mr. Müller, President Abbas never questioned Israel's right to exist. And you know, something else happened: these Abrahamic Treaties, where the situation between Israel and various Arab countries has improved. It's good! But the situation between Israel and Palestine has worsened as a result, and that is also the criticism I made at the time, that it is good if there is a better economic relationship with Israel between the Emirates and Sudan and Morocco and other countries.

And once more to the Germans. You see it very German and I understand everything.

Müller: Can't you answer that clearly? Does that mean that German politics is not too one-sided for you?

Asselborn: What does israel-one-sided mean? I told you, I am not a Pro-Israeli, I am not a Pro-Palestinian. I am pro humanity, pro rights, pro international law. And I think the Germans are for it too. The approach of a German - I totally understand that - is different from that of a Luxembourgish or a Belgian.

"Viktor Orbán is totally anti-European"

Müller: Give me one more question, Mr. Asselborn. - Is Viktor Orbán, having recently blocked the joint paper of the European Union, this resolution, is he too much pro-Israel?

Asselborn: No, he's totally anti-European. You know, if we can no longer manage to have a position in such a situation, that we at least get the ceasefire, that a ceasefire will come about, if we don't manage that, then we are to be compared to Greenland in terms of foreign policy. In Greenland the glaciers are melting and our foreign policy credibility is melting, and that is very, very bad. It hurts you! If you've been around for a long time, then you see - I've never seen that in 17 years - when, for example, there's a war in Myanmar or when there's a war in Syria or Yemen, that we as the European Union can't even manage it Ask about truce. This is very, very, very bad! That is bad for the credibility of European foreign policy.

Müller: Why is Viktor Orbán doing this? Because he wants to get very, very close to Benjamin Netanyahu?

Asselborn: That too, but he does it because he's anti-European. This is this illiberal. How long will we be dragging Viktor Orbán's burden with us?

Müller: As long as he is democratically elected in Hungary.

Asselborn: Yes sure! But there are also treaties and you know what is in the treaties of the European Union. It says that, in terms of foreign policy, every country has its duty to do, that we can work together to create a coherent common foreign policy. Orbán does exactly the opposite and several others are hiding behind him.

"The Palestinians Must Hold Elections"

Müller: We don't have much time left; I'll ask you anyway. When it comes to elections, many people can think of it, including me, Mahmoud Abbas. You just mentioned that. You talk to him more often. When does he feel like holding elections again? It hasn't happened for 15 years.

Asselborn: It's not that easy either.

Müller: Holding elections is not that easy?

Asselborn: Let's put it this way: The Palestinians have to hold elections. That’s very, very clear. It is true that there are problems in East Jerusalem, but that is no reason not to make elections. 93 percent of the Palestinians were enrolled and many were young people who had never voted. The frustration in general also has to do with it - very clearly. Of course, as you rightly say, it is not enough to hold elections. Four elections have now been held in Israel in two years and there is still no permanent government. I don't want to compare any of this.

Müller: But doing that isn't bad. You are still in favor of it.

Asselborn: Yes, of course I am for it! You can't put the opposite in my mouth.

Müller: No, it wasn't my intention. Then we would have clarified that too, Mr. Asselborn, because the news will be here in a few seconds.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.