(PMO/Kobi Gideon)
Netanyahu with German foreign minister

Der Spiegel claimed that Israel refused to allow the German foreign minister to fly through its airspace on a Middle East visit that did not include Israel, even though the minister actually had plans to visit two weeks later.

Did a German magazine invent a diplomatic conflict between Israel and Germany?

German magazine Der Spiegel published a piece alleging that Israel refused to allow the German foreign minister to fly through Israeli airspace on a visit to the Middle East that only included Arab countries. While there was no plan to visit Israel on that specific trip, the foreign minister already had plans to visit Israel two weeks later and Israeli authorities were aware of this.

Der Spiegel claimed that Israel did not allow German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to pass through on a flight from Beirut to Amman. Israel does not allow direct flights departing Lebanon to enter its airspace for security reasons as Lebanon is technically at war with Israel. As a result, the foreign minister was forced to fly via Cyprus before heading through Israel to reach Jordan. The magazine stated, based on an anonymous source, that Israel wanted to punish Steinmeier for not visiting the country during his Middle East tour.

In Israel, Steinmeier met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and he received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry denies that there was any intention to cause inconvenience, stating, “Israel did not commit an unfriendly act in this context,” according to a follow-up article by Der Spiegel. A spokesman added, “Israel did not deny the private plane of Foreign Minister Steinmeier [permission] to fly over Israeli airspace on the route from Beirut to Amman.”