Angela Merkel supports ‘indirect talks’ with Hamas

German Chancellor says ceasefire impossible without militant Gaza-based group

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed “indirect talks” with Hamas to advance ceasefire efforts between Israel and Gaza-based armed groups after 10 days of violence."Of course Hamas has to be included because without Hamas there will be no ceasefire”, Ms Merkel said.

Heiko Maas, Germany's foreign minister, is visiting the region on Thursday to meet senior Israeli and Palestinian officials but has no plans to meet Hamas.

Ms Merkel praised Egypt, which has been at the forefront of attempts to ensure a cessation of violence.

She described Cairo as "a very, very important major player in every issue when it comes to whether there will be a ceasefire".

"We stand for Israel's right to self-defence and that's why it is right that Israel is taking massive action,” Ms Merkel said.

"But on the other hand we want to contribute to diplomatic attempts to secure a long-term and sustainable situation in the region”, she said.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, the health ministry in Gaza said. Rockets fired from Gaza by groups such as Hamas have killed 12 in Israel, including one child.

Mr Maas said Israel has “the right to defend itself against such unacceptable attacks,” but he also expressed concern for civilian casualties.

"Let me say it again very clearly: For us the security of Israel and the security of all Jews in Germany are non-negotiable and Israel can always rely on that," he said.

Updated: May 20, 2021 05:28 PM

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