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German minister barred from Gaza visit

Israel has refused to allow German Development Aid Minister Dirk Niebel to visit the besieged Gaza Strip in order to inspect a sewage plant financed by Germany.

A German ministry spokesman, objecting to the Israeli move, said later on Saturday that talks over Niebel’s visit to the Palestinian areas were still underway.

Niebel had hoped to visit a sewage treatment plant, financed with the German development aid, during his current visit to Israel.

“Sometimes the Israeli government does not make it easy for its friends to explain why it behaves the way it does,” Niebel told the German ZDF TV network program “heute” (today).

He further added that Israel’s latest announcement on easing the Gaza siege was “not sufficient” and that Tel Aviv must “now deliver” on its pledge.

Beyond that, Israel should be “clear” about how, within an international context, it wants to “cooperate with its friends in the future as well,” the German minister of the liberal Free Democratic Party said.

Earlier Saturday, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German parliament, with the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, is to issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow the passage of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip by sea.

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