Germany steps up efforts to broker cease-fire in Middle East. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) will meet with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo today for this purpose. Then he leaves for Israel, where he will stay until Sunday. In addition to consultations with Israeli government representatives, a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also planned.
Steinmeier stressed that he was convinced that talks on the ground must help to "turn the call for a ceasefire into a truce". He said he would coordinate closely with the Czech EU presidency during the trip. Egypt, in particular, must now be supported in its efforts to make the border with the Gaza Strip more secure and to stop the smuggling of weapons. He described the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory as worrying. With the resolution adopted in the Security Council on Friday night, however, a first step has been taken. Steinmeier stressed that the fact that the resolution was adopted without a dissenting vote was "an important sign of unity" in the international community. Security Council calls for immediate and lasting cease-fire on both sides, leading to complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Gernot Erler (SPD), praised that the resolution 1860 will possibly go down in history. Although the USA abstained from the vote, it made clear that it supported the content of the resolution. This has not happened in the past decades. Erler stressed that further fighting now violates international law. Erler did not rule out sending German blue helmet soldiers to the Gaza Strip. Should Germany be asked by both sides to participate, as in the Lebanon war, it would be "difficult to avoid it," he said. At present, however, a discussion about a German mission in Gaza would be premature. Deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg stressed that there must first be a cease-fire. Only then could it be seen whether it was sensible for the international community to consider "whatever kind of presence". At the same time, Steg emphasized: "We are not there yet."If the smuggling of weapons could not be stopped, the prospect of a ceasefire and a truce would be dimmed. CDU foreign affairs expert Eckart von Klaeden urged restraint regarding a mission to the Gaza Strip. At the same time, he advocated "support for an efficient border regime that would stop the illegal and continued smuggling of weapons". A mission in Gaza, on the other hand, could not be "defined efficiently enough". "An observer mission alone would not be sufficient, because to observe the rocket fire of Israel by Hamas, Israel and the international community are also capable of doing so." The children's agency UNICEF called on the parties to the conflict to provide safe and unimpeded access to Gaza for humanitarian workers and to allow the distribution of food, water, fuel and medicine. The German Red Cross provided blankets, mattresses and other relief supplies worth 300,000 euros for the civilian population.