Solar, hydrogen and a little peace: Robert Habeck is pursuing big plans in the Middle East. But with his advances, he also causes irritation in the country.
It’s almost midnight, but it’s still very hot and Robert Habeck hasn’t had enough. Eat more nuts, drink a sip of beer.
The day began with a run through West Jerusalem, he visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and recited a poem there in a cracking voice. There was a meeting with the Palestinian prime minister in Ramallah, during which he briefly irritated his host. And now, after a long journey up to 400 meters below sea level, he is sitting in Jordan at the Dead Sea.
Some fellow travelers are exhausted, but the Vice-Chancellor is never tired. And if it happens, then at least you don’t have to notice it. Habeck beams in an informal chat on the roof terrace: Well, if it were up to me, I could go on like this for a long time.
Robert Habeck is clearly enjoying his trip to the Middle East. Four days Israel, Palestinian territories, Jordan. German-Israeli relations, energy transition, crisis politics and climate change. He should not seek emergency gas relief here, as he recently did in Qatar, but he can turn the great wheel of transformation of our world.
Because anyone who knows Habek will not be surprised that the man is convinced that he can do something, even here in the politically mined region.
Habek encounters obstacles
Habeck sees this trip to the Middle East as a focal point of the climate crisis. Drastic warming, water scarcity and very high CO2 emissions. He wants to try to use climate protection to ease some of the political conflict between Israel and the Arabs. This gives his visit a certain drop height. Does the Habeck method work in the Middle East, in the most complicated conflicts?
After all, a lot is possible in Habeck’s world if you do what it takes, are smart enough, and then are able to talk about it in an engaging way. But in the Middle East, Habeck occasionally encounters obstacles.
When he visits Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Schtayeh in Ramallah, the two first talk to each other for a good hour and then to the press. Politeness is exchanged, but also critical points. So far, so ordinary. It’s actually already at the end, but then Habeck wants to “say something for two more minutes.”
An appeal and a dry response
A typical Habek observation follows – this time applied to the Middle East conflict, in which violence has escalated again in recent weeks and claimed dozens of lives on both sides. In English, he says that you should not always show only the other side. This applies to Israelis, but also to Palestinians. “Please understand that losses, feelings and emotions exist on the other side.”
It’s a call to sweep your front door, too. Have you heard of it before, far away in Germany, but not here in the Middle East. Prime Minister Schtayeh keeps his eyes on the German as he makes his two-minute call. Then, when Habeck has finished, the prime minister dryly says: “Thank you very much. As you know, the Palestinian people live under occupation and that really speaks for itself.” Point.
The Habeck approach, to look at problems with emotion and empathy and talk about politics with some remorse, failed that afternoon in Ramallah.