Gabriel during his meeting with Rivlin. The German envoy said Netanyahu’s cancellation would be “a remarkable event.” (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled talks Tuesday with Germany's visiting foreign minister after he rejected the Israeli leader's demand not to meet left-wing groups critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians under occupation.Berlin has been increasingly critical of the settlement policies of Netanyahu's right-wing government in territory Palestinians seek for a state.The organization, a frequent target of criticism by the Israeli government, collects testimony from Israeli veterans about the military's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the influence it says Israeli settlers have on the army's actions.Gabriel said it was normal to talk to civil society representatives in Israel, a view that drew expressions of support from Israeli opposition leaders.Israeli Environment Minister Zeev Elkin, a confidant of Netanyahu, told Israel radio it was "unthinkable" for a minister to meet groups working against the country he was visiting.A spokesman for Breaking the Silence declined to comment on Netanyahu's decision to snub Gabriel, or on the details of their planned meeting, which the Peace Now movement said it would also attend along with the B'Tselem rights group.
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