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Israel summons German ambassador to rebuke him for interference in domestic politics

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to Fox News Digital on Tuesday that the ministry took the highly unusual move to summon Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, to send a message about his reported interference in domestic affairs, including allegedly honoring Palestinian terrorists.

Lior Haiat, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, told Fox News that he “confirms” the report on the website of the conservative Israeli news outlet Chanel 14.

The reported rebuke of Seibert coincides with a recent Fox News Digital report about criticisms leveled against the Biden administration’s alleged “blatant interference” in Israeli domestic affairs.

Channel 14 reported in late May, that “Seibert was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was rebuked by the head of the Europe Division, Daniel Meron, following a series of events that were viewed harshly in Israel. Among other things, Seibert participated in the ‘Alternative Day of Remembrance’ ceremony in Tel Aviv.”

Israel’s MFA and Israeli critics of Seibert took great umbrage at Seibert for his role in reportedly denigrating one of the most important and solemn days in Israel: “Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Hostile Acts.”

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Eli Cohen at lectern

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during press conference in Jerusalem on January 02, 2023.  (Photo by Israel Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Israeli Mideast expert Caroline Glick told Fox News Digital that Seibert’s role in the alternative ceremony — also known as the joint memorial day — was a “hostile act toward not just the Israeli government but Israeli society” because the event honors “dead Palestinians terrorists” along with Israeli victims of terrorism and fallen Israeli soldiers. Glick, who hosts the popular Caroline Glick Show on Jewish News Syndicate, said the alternative ceremony, which has taken place since 2006, “meets with overwhelming revulsion” in Israel and is a form false “moral equivalency” because it equates Palestinians who carried out terrorist acts with Jewish victims of terrorism and fallen Israelis soldiers who combat terrorism. 

Glick said Germany funds the NGO Parents Circle—Families Forum that sponsors the alternative memorial ceremony. She added the event is a “deliberate act by NGO Parents Circle—Families Forum to anger and cause great emotional distress to Israeli society and undermine spirit of Israeli society.”

Streets in Israel lined with Israeli flags and people in silence

Israelis in Jerusalem mark Memorial Day with a national minute of silence.  (Yoav Dudkevich/TPS)

Robi Damelin, a spokeswoman from Parents Circle—Families Forum, told Fox News Digital that she lost her son David to terrorism  in 2002 and expressed outrage about being viewed as “traitor.” She said, “PCFF is working for non-violence and reconciliation. The people who criticized the ceremony have never actually been to a ceremony. You can go to YouTube and see the ceremony where Palestinians and Israelis come together to tell their stories on memorial day and hear beautiful music and poetry. I don’t think that it is radical. I think it is unique.” 

Damelin said the German NGO Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt), the European Union, and private donors provide funds to PCFF. Israel’s MFA also took Seibert to task for his role in preventing the German air force from participating in a joint flight with Israel’s air force fly over the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria during the Jewish State’s 75th Independence Day ceremony in April. 

Ariel Kahana, a senior diplomatic commentator for Israel’s most read Hebrew-language daily newspaper, the right-of-center Israel Hayom, who first broke the story on Seibert interfering in the German air force flight, told Fox News Digital that “Seibert boasted about succeeding in preventing the flight” over the disputed territory.The Palestinians see the disputed West Bank territory, known by Israelis as Judea and Samaria, as land for their future state. Israel’s government has built Jewish residences and town in the Judea and Samaria and contests the Palestinian claim over the entire region.

Palestinians protesting with Palestine flags

Palestinians wave their national flag during a protest against an Israeli parade through Jerusalem’s Old City, along the frontier with Israel east of Gaza City, Thursday, May 18, 2023. The parade in Jerusalem marked Jerusalem Day, an Israeli holiday celebrating the capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital and see the march as a provocation.  (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

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The United States, the United Kingdom and Italy participated in the joint flight in celebration of Israel’s founding and did not withdraw their flight over Judea and Samaria. The Israeli military said at the time this is “a sign of partnership between the countries and the unique relationship of the State of Israel with them.” 

Glick said, “The German military is supposed to be a symbolic representation of the new Germany. They asked to participate and insinuated themselves into our national independence and used the opportunity to insult it.” She added that the refusal to join Israel’s air force in the flyover is “just an act of hostility by the Germans.”

Streets in Israel lined with Israeli flags and people in silence

Israelis in Jerusalem mark Memorial Day with a national minute of silence. (Yoav Dudkevich/TPS)

Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli columnist for the left-leaning Haaretz, said the rebuke of Seibert “is shameful and stupid. Germany is a great supporter of Israel. For what? Because they don’t allow Germany to fly over West bank.”

Melman said the German government’s policy “doesn’t’ recognize the West Bank” as Israeli territory. He added the Germans “support Israel against Iran. They help Israel with intelligence. The trade between Israel and Germany is big.”

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Old City of Jerusalem, Israelis wave flags

Israelis wave national flags in front of Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City to mark Jerusalem Day, an Israeli holiday celebrating the capture of the Old City during the 1967 Mideast war, on May 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

He added that “You don’t do this publicly’” regarding the rebuke of Seibert. “Ambassadors are supposed to represent all sectors of Israeli society, including the opposition and tiny minorities. He is the German ambassador to Israel not to the Israeli government,” said Melman.

Israel’s MFA also summoned Seibert due to a report that Germany’s government reportedly instructed German diplomats on two occasion to not take photographs in the Old City of Jerusalem because Berlin views it has “occupied territory,” according to Israel Hayom. 

Yonatan Shay, the Head of the Hasbara (Israel Advocacy) Dep. of Im Tirtzu told Fox News Digital that Seibert has contributed to a deterioration in German-Israeli relations during his short tenure as ambassador. Shay said “the biggest Zionist movement in Israel, Im Tirtzu, truly believes he should resign due to his recent fiascos.”

Shay said about Seibert’s tweets in support of alleged Palestinian terrorists that “He disgraced the international Holocaust memorial day by criticizing heroic IDF operation in Jenin in which the IDF eliminated Palestinian terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony for fallen soldiers of Israel’s wars at the Yad Lebanim House on the eve of Memorial Day, in Jerusalem, April 13, 2021. Debbie Hill/Pool via REUTERS (Reuters)

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Shay, who speaks fluent German and worked for the Jewish Agency for Israel in Germany, said Seibert “disgraced the most sacred day in the Israeli calendar because he participated at the joint alternative memorial ceremony to honor Palestinian terrorists who murdered Jews and IDF soldiers who fell in battle protecting our land.”

Fox News Digital sent numerous press queries to Seibert and the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

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