Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has urged Germany to help find a solution to the conflict in Gaza, and notably to send inspectors to Gaza's borders along with other European Union countries.
Mediators were working on Thursday to extend a truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, where half a million people have been displaced by a month of bloodshed that has devastated the Hamas-dominated enclave. A three-day ceasefire was due to expire on Friday.
Lieberman told Thursday's mass-selling German daily Bild that Germany had a "very significant" role to play in preventing an economic and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, where Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people to try to prevent arms reaching Islamist militants.
He said Germany should bring together EU leaders to help find a lasting settlement for Gaza, from where Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israel in the last month, demanding an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
Lieberman said he was not suggesting the despatch of troops or police. "But Germany and the EU need to send inspectors to Gaza to control the trade the Palestinians conduct with neighbouring states."
He said Israel did not want to govern Gaza again but that a solution was needed for the people who live there.
"And Germany should take responsibility as the leader of such a mission," he said.
Germany has traditionally seen itself as a protector of Israel, mindful of the Holocaust of Europe's Jews committed by Nazi Germany in World War Two.
Germany, France and Britain have proposed reactivating a European Union mission on the Egypt-Gaza border to help stabilise the enclave after the month-long war, a German diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
Reinhold Robbe, President of the German-Israeli Association, told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio he was in favour of such a mission but said it should have a U.N. mandate and would probably also need military back-up.
Lieberman said Israel's military action was "not yet over" but had been successful in destroying the cross-border tunnels dug by Palestinian guerrillas from Gaza to Israel.