Gaza War: “Have the same empathy for the victims of both camps”

Israel has long opposed a ceasefire, stressing that there can only be peace once Hamas is destroyed. Can there be peace on this basis?

The best path to peace is the two-state solution. This seems very far away at the moment and many preconditions would have to be met before negotiations can even begin in this direction. But without the two-state solution as a goal, peace negotiations will be meaningless. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy Israel. It is understandable that the Israeli government wants to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure.

Who is recognized by both parties as capable of negotiating a two-state solution?

That’s the big question. The West will certainly be in great demand here, that is to say the United States, but also European countries such as Germany. But of course the Arab countries, who have now also pushed for the ceasefire, must also get involved. It is not yet possible to say who will ultimately negotiate on the Israeli and Palestinian sides. The situation on the ground is evolving too quickly for that. The question will also be how the internal political situation in Israel will evolve in the coming weeks. Ultimately, those with an interest in a peaceful solution must come to the negotiating table.

As a German-Israeli parliamentary group, you speak a lot with representatives of Israel. How has the domestic political situation evolved since October 7?

With this cross-party motion, the German Bundestag sent a strong signal of solidarity with Israel – this was also seen by Israeli parliamentarians. At the national level, there are many signs that Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have lost the majority. Calls for resignation come not only from the political opposition, but also, to a large extent, from civil society. It remains to be seen what influence this will have on the government. Currently, the war cabinet mainly makes decisions. Members of the Knesset are largely left behind. The domestic political consequences will likely only become clear once the war is over.

The images from Gaza also affect many people in Germany. There are now more and more accusations that there are double standards when it comes to deaths. Can you understand the criticism?

No, I can’t do that. The images from Gaza also touch me, but we must not forget that we have not seen the images of the barbaric attacks against Israel on October 7 in Germany. Of course, this creates a certain visual imbalance. But I am sure that representatives of the federal government will address the victims of Gaza several times and that their fate will not leave anyone indifferent. We should have the same empathy towards the victims on both sides. However, we must not forget that this attack, which causes the highest number of victims since the Holocaust, is deeply traumatic for Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself and hold terrorists accountable. The civilian population of Gaza is also a victim of Hamas’s terror.

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