Wednesday

18th Jan 2017

Israeli PM 'disappointed' with Angela Merkel

  • Benjamin Netanyahu and Angela Merkel visiting the Holocaust museum in Berlin in 2010 (Photo: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Moshe Milner)

A joint German-Israeli government meeting in Berlin on Thursday (6 December) is likely to be the scene of more disagreements between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two traditional allies are having increased difficulty finding common ground.

The scene was set already on the eve of the meeting. Netanyahu told Die Welt about his "disappointment" at Germany's decision last week to abstain instead of saying "No" to Palestine's status upgrade within the United Nations.

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"I think Chancellor Merkel thought this vote would somehow promote peace. But the opposite has happened: Ever since the UN vote, the Palestinian Authority has made moves towards uniting with Hamas terrorists," Netanyahu said.

Merkel, for her part, said on the margins of her party congress in Hannover that talks with the Israeli ally would be "frank" and not shy away from criticism about Israel's ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank.

"Germany will always defend Israel's security, that is part of our foreign policy. But friends can also have disagreements," Merkel told N-tv.

A dinner on Wednesday evening between the two lasted over three hours and produced no official statements. Government sources told Handelsblatt and Spiegel that the meeting had a "detailed exchange of views in a spirit of mutual respect."

As a tit-for-tat move after the UN vote, Israel said it would build 3,000 more homes in the controversial E-1 area between east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Germany, like other EU countries, is seeking to persuade Netanyahu to stop this policy, which is hampering peace talks with the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials said they will ask the UN security council to demand a halt to settlements. “If the Israelis build E-1, the idea of peace, of a two-state solution, will disappear,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Out of EU's 27 countries, only the Czech Republic voted against the UN status upgrade - signalling a change of mood against the Israeli government. Fourteen EU states voted in favour, while 12, including Germany, abstained.

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