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Germany's Merkel cautions ally Israel on settlements
Published Thursday 06/12/2012 (updated) 09/12/2012 10:44
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during a news conference
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after bilateral talks at
the Chancellery in Berlin Dec. 6, 2012. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

BERLIN (Reuters) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to avoid "one-sided moves," amid uproar over Israeli plans to build 3,000 settler homes in a highly sensitive area of the West Bank.

She framed her message as friendly advice to an increasingly isolated Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose move has drawn international condemnation, including from European states and Israel's closest ally the United States.

Germany, which is usually supportive of Israel, has said the plan - announced by Israel a day after the UN General Assembly's de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood - risks extinguishing hopes for a two-state solution.

At a joint news conference with Netanyahu in Berlin, Merkel was more muted in her criticism than her government has recently been, although she acknowledged they had discussed the housing plan over dinner on Wednesday.

"Of course we spoke about it ... we agreed to disagree," she said.

"Israel decides for itself, it is a sovereign state. All we can do as a partner is give our opinion and our evaluation. The aim is clear ... it is for a two-state solution."

Palestinians say the new settlements on land they seek for their state could bisect the West Bank and cut them off from Jerusalem, their would-be capital.

"We in Germany believe the work on a two-state solution must be continued ... We must keep trying to come to negotiations and one-sided moves should be avoided," Merkel added.

Netanyahu, who had told German newspaper Die Welt he was disappointed that Germany had abstained in the UN vote rather than vote with Israel, brushed aside the issue of settlements.

He told Merkel he had no doubt whatsoever of her commitment to the security and well-being of Israel and criticized what he called a misconception in Europe that settlement-building was preventing peace.

Disagreement

"I don't think we have lost Europe," he said. "There is obviously a difference of view in Europe, on the issue of settlements ... it is not the root cause of our conflict."

Disagreement over settlement building has tested relations behind the scenes between Germany and Israel for several years.

Netanyahu said he remained committed to a two-state solution and was willing to hold negotiations with the Palestinians.

"The most important thing is that peace will not be decided in the UN in New York and not in Europe. It can only be advanced in Jerusalem and Ramallah," he said.

Netanyahu, favored to win a Jan. 22 general election with the backing of right-wing voters, has rejected calls by the United States and Europe to reverse course over settlements.

US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over settlement-building. All settlements are illegal under international law.

Germany nurtures strong relations with Israel and feels a special responsibility for its security because of the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust.

Many Israeli ministers joined Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday for consultations with their German counterparts on a broad range of issues, though to Berlin's chagrin Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman withdrew from the visit.
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1 ) mohamed / somalia
06/12/2012 22:14
the world has spoken satanyahoo, either 2 state solution or one state democratic to all people. tell the maldovan psycho settler in the west bank it is time to look and give up the palestinian territory no other option .

2 ) @ Mohamed-1 / USA
06/12/2012 23:35
You know "the world has spoken" in a UNGA resolution, so a "2 state solution" now exists, with Palestine having sovereignty in ONLY Gaza and ONLY Areas A/B, and this defacto "solution" leaves all the rest to Israel.

3 ) gabi / australia
07/12/2012 01:15
Angel Merkel is one tough cookie, but if she thinks Israel will take the slightest notice, then she should think again. All Israel has to do is call on German history, cite anti-Semitism and then go about doing just what they want to do. The only way to stop Israel is for the US to withdraw all funding - but they won't do that either, because the anti-Semitic tag will be called in aid against them, too. Forget nukes - this is Israel's biggest weapon - call anyone who opposes them anti-Semites.

4 ) Theo Wettach / Germany
07/12/2012 12:53
It is a very disappointing declaration of the German chancelor to declare: "We want that there is a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state!" What about the non-Jewish citizens and inhabitants in the state of Israel? How ca she imagine that the Palestinian people would agree with this idea?

5 ) betz55 / USA
07/12/2012 15:37
No Bibi, it will not be decided in Jerusalem and Ramallah, it will be decided in Jerusalem - the capital of the Palestinian state. You just didn't get the memo yet and with you lack of brain power, never will.

6 ) Mel / USA
07/12/2012 16:30
#3:I disagree gabi! Merkel isn't 'one tough cookie'.She's actually quite weak &servile(still)to USG foreign policy!If she was 'tough',she'd be telling Bibi,"ENUFF!Screw the anti-semitism,Zionist crap!"Germany/ALL Europe has been BILKED enough,since WW2,for the war crimes of the Nazi's.There's NOTHING else to feel guilty ABOUT or REPAY!UK,EU,US citizens,feel the same!Zionist Israel has drained that guilt-trip dry! Being the neo-NaZionist VILLIAN,since 1935,&Israel since '48.The world is THRU' now

7 ) Reader / from Edmonton
07/12/2012 17:47
None of Israel's wars of acquisition has been defensive. All have been fought over land Israel invaded outside its legal borders. Every one. In 1948 Israel agreed to borders as defined by the UN in 1947. In every case since then, Israeli incursions outside those borders have led to conflict. All lands outside those 1948 borders is Palestine or other foreign land, all under occupation. No land can be annexed by Israel w/o a referendum of the original residents whether they are still in place or

8 ) Reader / from Edmonton
07/12/2012 17:50
temporarily displaced as refugees. Israel knows this: America knows this. the whole world knows this.

9 ) @ Theo-4 / USA
07/12/2012 18:06
Neither Ms. Merkel, nor any other reasonable people, would ever:
- "imagine the Palestinian people would agree" with Israeli policy, or
- the Jewish people would agree with Palestinian UN demands,
and this likely to remain permanent disagreement is likely to leave the present situation as a permanent "solution", with:
- a Palestinian state with sovereignty in Gaza and Areas A/B ONLY, and
- a Jewish state with sovereignty in all the rest to Israel !!!!

10 ) G. Benedetti / Italy
07/12/2012 20:01
Very well said Mal. But now is up to you Americans towake up your Gov't. The US stands for human rights? Oh, give me a break!

11 ) Angela Merkel / Isawhore
08/12/2012 05:25
nothing more to be said
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