Criticism of Israel’s war effort: “Habeck would have been better off keeping quiet”

Germany Criticism of Israel’s war conduct

“Habeck would have been better off keeping quiet”

“Of course Israel must abide by international law”

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza as being contrary to international law. “The famine, the suffering of the Palestinian population, the attacks in the Gaza Strip are – as we now see in court – incompatible with international law,” he said in a public discussion in Berlin.

For the first time, a member of the German government, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens), has accused Israel of violating international law in the war against Hamas. The Union finds the statements “completely incomprehensible and unacceptable”. The traffic light coalition in the Bundestag has only remained silent on Habeck’s statement.

DThe sharp criticism of the Israeli government’s course in the Gaza war by Federal Minister of Economics and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) has met with a mixed response in the opposition. On Saturday, at a public meeting in Berlin, Habeck explicitly accused Israel for the first time of violating international law through military action in the Gaza Strip.

He said: “Of course Israel must abide by international law. And the famine, the suffering of the Palestinian population, the attacks in the Gaza Strip are – as we are now seeing in court – incompatible with international law.” And he added: “That means that Israel has indeed overstepped its boundaries there, and it must not do that.”


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Until now, the federal government had only appealed to the Israeli government to abide by international law. The accusation of violating international law is new. However, the traffic light coalition did not answer the question of whether this should be seen as a reversal in the federal government’s stance towards Israel on Sunday: none of the parliamentary groups of the SPD, Greens and FDP that were asked were prepared to comment.

The Union faction, on the other hand, renewed its criticism of Habeck and the federal government. Johann Wadephul (CDU), deputy leader of the Union faction, considers the Vice Chancellor’s statements to be “completely incomprehensible and unacceptable”. The question arises “whether that is the position of the federal government”. The Minister of Justice must explain himself on this. The government should say “whether it now intends to make such assessments instead of the courts,” Wadephul told WELT.

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He referred to Habeck’s earlier statement in a video in which he had called on Israel to crush Hamas. It was unclear whether that still applied now. “Habeck would have been better off keeping quiet,” Wadephul criticized.

CSU General Secretary Martin Huber had previously sharply criticized Habeck’s comments. The Minister of Economic Affairs was “pouring oil on the fire of the already heated anti-Semitic mood in Germany,” Huber told the German Press Agency. He accused Habeck of “serving the narrative of Hamas and Israel haters.” His accusations bordered on reversing the roles of perpetrator and victim. “He is thus joining the ranks of the anti-Israeli propagandists of left-wing anti-Semitism. This must have no place in our society,” said Huber.

How AfD and the Left position themselves

Habeck receives support from both the AfD and the Left Party. “Israel’s right to self-defense is beyond question, but is bound to compliance with international humanitarian law,” said AfD Bundestag member Matthias Moosdorf to WELT. The principle of proportionality is anchored in international law, as is the protection of the civilian population. It is legitimate to investigate the question “whether Israel’s military and political actions are still in line with international law.” The International Criminal Court is “a suitable place for these investigations.”

Moosdorf also emphasized Germany’s “special responsibility for Israel, which results from our shared history.” Justified criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government must nevertheless be allowed. Moosdorf does not see this as a new positioning of the federal government.

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Satellite image of the city of Rafah on May 4 (left) and May 15, 2024

Martin Schirdewan, co-chairman of the Left Party, sees Habeck’s comments as “just a summary of the decision of the International Court of Justice”. It is self-evident “that court decisions must be respected”, Schirdewan told WELT. However, it has not always been the case “that the traffic light coalition insists so consistently on international law”, criticised the Left Party leader.

In his view, solidarity with Israel still exists. “The terrible crimes of Hamas are not relativized in the slightest if one urges the partner, the Israeli government, to comply with international law,” said Schirdewan.

Meanwhile, the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas has fired rockets at the greater Tel Aviv area for the first time in four months. News agencies reported that several explosions were heard in the city center of Tel Aviv. The military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to Israeli military sources, eight rockets were fired from the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip at the Israeli coastal metropolis. The army announced that several missiles were intercepted by missile defense systems.

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