Middle East

Germany and France Criticize Rantisi Killing

Germany and France have joined international criticism of Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Asis Rantisi at the weekend, calling for a return to the road map to peace in the Middle East. Uwe Hessler has the details.

photo: AP
Michel Barnier and Joschka Fischer at the meeting of EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Tullamore, Ireland

​​Rantisi, who was killed in an Israeli helicopter attack on Sarturday, was one of Isreal's top targets after it assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin last month.

German foreign minister Joschka Fischer and his French counterpart Michel Barnier said in Berlin on Monday that violence must not be allowed to replace the political process as outlined in the road map and promoted by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Just on Sunday Joschka Fischer and Michel Barnier had met for a hastily arranged meeting with the United Nations special envoy for Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, for an update on the situation in the wider Middle Eastern region.

French and German policies on Middle East fully in tune

On Monday Barnier made his first official visit to Berlin as the newly-inaugurated French foreign minister. He and Fischer have long been close friends and Barnier stressed in Berlin that French and German policies on the Middle East conflict and the war in Iraq are fully in tune.

Fischer criticized Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Rantisi saying there was full agreement between Germany and France that such action didn't help the peace process in the region.

"We have always rejected such intentional killings, says Fischer, because it's a measure that cannot be tolerated in international politics. Although Israel has the right to defend itself, it must bear in mind the consequences of such action. That is why I'm gravely concerned about present developments in the Middle East."

Return to the Road Map

The two foreign ministers also made it quite clear that Israel and the Palestinians must return to the road map for peace because it was the only plan both had agreed on.

Barnier stressed that United States unilateral support for Israel's disengagement plan from Palestinian territory must not threaten the road map.

"There is no alternative to the implementation of the road map", said Barnier. "There is also no alternative to the participation of the Palestinians in a concerted effort to achieve peace. We must not allow violence to replace the political process."

Stronger role for the United Nations

On Iraq, Fischer and Barnier have called for a stronger role of the United Nations in the hand-over of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

They supported plans by United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for a caretaker government of Iraqis after the June the 30th surrender of sovereignty by the United States appointed Governing Council.

The two leaders stressed that their countries would be ready to participate in an eventual reconstruction phase.

Uwe Hessler

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