The visit of Kerstin Mueller took place at a time when it was uncertain in which direction the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would move: The Palestinians negotiated in Cairo about a unity-government while in Israel the new government just took over. In the meantime all players were waiting for the new US-administration who had announced a more active role in the Middle East. Palestinian dialog partners were very concerned about the ongoing division between the West Bank and Gaza. They did not see an alternative except a unity-government of Fatah and Hamas although observers were very skeptical. In Israel the new government tried to resolve all doubts regarding their unwillingness to move on in the peace process. However the peace camp and NGOs are very skeptical especially because of FM Avigdor Lieberman. Both sides – Israelis and Palestinians - have high expectations towards the EU.
During the visit, meetings were held in Hebron, Ramallah, Gaza, Sderot, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with politicians, NGOs, academics and journalists.
The first talks took place in Hebron with the Norwegian officer Roy C. Gottheim, the Head of Mission of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) about the conflict between Jewish settlers and Palestinians within the city.
In Ramallah Kerstin Mueller met the German representative, Klaus Burghard, the vice-president of Birzeit University, Ghassan Khatib, the Fatah politician Qadoura Fares as well as PM Salam Fayyad. The talks were mainly about the situation in the West Bank, the fading possibility of a two state structure, the role of Hamas, the need of a unity government and the hope of a more active EU.
During the tour to Gaza, she had meetings with Aiden O´Leary, the vice director of UNRWA and Rabhi Salem, the director of the destroyed American School. Subject of the talks were the Gaza war, the Israeli blockades and the deteriorating situation. On the way back Kerstin Mueller made a short visit to Sderot to get an impression on the threat of Qassam-rockets coming from Gaza.
In Jerusalem she participated in a tour with members of the NGO Ir Amim (City of Peoples) about the ongoing activities of settlers and the building of the wall in and around Eastern Jerusalem. She also talked about the illegal settlements and possible legal actions against it with Dror Etkes from Yesh Din. Kerstin Mueller visited Yad Vashem and had a wreath ceremony. She also met with Prof. Moshe Zimmermann and had meetings in the Knesset with Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) and Rachel Adato (Kadima). At the foreign ministry a meeting was held with David Akov, director of the “Centers for Policy Research”.
In Tel Aviv Kerstin Mueller met with project partners from the foundation (Thabet Abu Rass from Ben Gurion University, Eilon Schwartz from the Heshel Center, Dorit Abramovitch from different feminist groups). Together with a delegation of Greens from Cologne she met with Sharon Malki and Noah Efron from Ir le Kulanu and Tami Zandberg from Meretz and talked about “public budgeting” among other topics. This dialog is supposed to be continued. Kerstin Mueller also met with the TV journalists Ayala Chasson and Anat Saragusti, Ron Pundak from the Peres-Center for Peace and Eran Ben Yemini, head of the Green Movement.
The Gaza war, its impacts and the Israeli election results were issues raised during many meetings. However, also the potential for green topics was seen in the talks with Ir le Kulanu and the Green Movement. At the end of her visit Kerstin Mueller said that she is planning to use the instrument of addressing questions to the German government to get information of it’s assessment of the settlements in the context of the deepening relations between the EU and Israel. She also declared that she will come to visit again on a regular basis.
Kerstin Müller - Spokesperson on foreign policy
From the website of the Green Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag:
I was born and raised in the Rhineland: my hometown is Cologne, and I'm a devoted fan of the city. Especially because of the carnival! Berlin is no match for Cologne in that respect. Having said that, I have become very fond of the capital city too.
I have been a member of the Bundestag since 1994. My passion for political involvement, however, dates back to my school days. I really enjoy engaging in debate with others and thereby contributing to making Germany more modern and cosmopolitan.
In the 13th and 14th legislative periods, I was chairwoman of our parliamentary group in the Bundestag, first together with Joschka Fischer and later with Rezzo Schlauch. In October 2002 I was appointed Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office. In this position, one of my key areas was the issue of just and sustainable globalisation.
I am especially interested in the African continent. It is absolutely essential to pursue comprehensive foreign policy and security policy concepts in this region. The interlocking of development, economic and security policy is a strategy that we, the Alliance 90/The Greens, have upheld for a long time.
I am committed to promoting democracy, civil and human rights as well as migration and refugee policies, both in Germany and worldwide.
Member of the Green Party (since 1986)
Spokesperson for the Green Party, Cologne branch (1987-89)
Spokesperson for Alliance '90/The Greens in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (1990-94)
Member of parliament and chair of the Alliance '90/The Greens parliamentary group, (1994-2002)
Member of the Mediation Committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat (lower and upper houses of German Parliament) (13th and 14th legislative period)
Member of the Alliance 90/The Greens party council (since 1999)
Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office (15th legislative period, 2002-2005)