German Development Minister Dirk Niebel continued his visit to Israel on Monday, meeting President Shimon Peres, after a row over the weekend when Mr. Niebel criticised Israel for not being permitted to visit the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Niebel was due later in the day to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann.
The German minister had arrived on Saturday in Israel, followed soon after by his disclosure that he had not been permitted to visit the Gaza Strip where he was to inspect a sewage plant financed by Berlin development aid.
Mr. Niebel said Israel had made a “large foreign policy mistake” by not allowing him to visit the Gaza Strip and his comments were later backed up by criticism from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
But Israel reacted with surprise on Sunday to Mr. Niebel’s criticism with a Foreign Ministry official saying “There is a clear policy...We have explained that we do not allow the entry of foreign politicians to the Gaza Strip.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the German Press Agency dpa that Israel feared the Islamist Hamas movement, which administers the coastal salient, would exploit visits by foreign politicians for propaganda purposes.
This would also weaken the moderate, West Bank—based government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he said.