Merkel: We will oppose ‘unilateral’ Palestinian statehood

"This will be our position in September," chancellor tells Netanyahu regarding possible UN resolution creating independent Palestinian state.

By
April 7, 2011 15:16
3 minute read.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Angela Merkel

netanyahu merkel 311. (photo credit: GPO)

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday voiced her government’s opposition to a possible United Nations resolution creating an independent Palestinian state. “The Federal Republic of Germany is championing a two-state solution...Any kind of unilateral recognition does not promote this goal. This will be our position in September,” she said, during a joint press conference here with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian Authority is intensely lobbying the United Nations General Assembly to bypass direct Israel-Palestinian talks and recognize a Palestinian state with a UN resolution in September.

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After media reports about a diplomatic row in February between Netanyahu and Merkel over the peace process, both leaders showed no signs of frosty relations during their meetings.

“When I talk to the prime minister, I am never put out, never irritated, “ said Merkel, continuing: [Our conversations are] “close, very candid...

They are fun. Apart from being fun, they are allowing us to make progress.”

She added that the strains reported in the media in February are “not a realistic portrayal of what happened” and noted that the German-Israeli relationship is “very intense and close.”

Merkel reportedly accused Netanyahu then of not advancing the peace progress. According to media reports in February, Netanyahu complained to Merkel about Germany’s vote against Israel at the UN Security Council, condemning Israeli settlement construction in the disputed territories.

However, Netanyahu said on Thursday the talks were “candid and open.... We consider Germany and you [Merkel] a great friend of Germany, a great champion of Israel’s security.”

Merkel also stressed the importance, to her administration, of the “well-being of the State of Israel.”

Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons – and the lethal repression of the prodemocracy movement in the Islamic Republic – were core themes of both leaders’ statements.

Merkel said Iran’s nuclear program is “more than ever a threat. Everything has to be done to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu said “Tehran thinks they are immune,” and the Iranian regime must be held responsible “for the brutality to its own people... We would like to see the rest of the countries in this vast region move toward democracy.”

He said he hoped the changes would lead to a democratic revolution, as in 1989 in Eastern Europe, not like the 1979 revolution that ushered in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He stressed that it is important that the changes in the Mideast region “move toward progress and modernity and not toward medievalism and theocracy.”

The thorny issue of flourishing German-Iranian trade did not surface at the joint press conference. However, according to a Financial Times Deutschland article on Thursday, Merkel’s administration is looking into placing the Hamburg-based European- Iranian trade bank (EIH) on the EU sanctions list because of its involvement in nuclear proliferation activity. Both Israel and the United States have asked Germany to shut down the EIH.

Israel’s wish to obtain a sixth Dolphin submarine at a reduced fee from Germany was raised, and Merkel said Israel’s “comprehensive security situation” was discussed.

She did not elaborate on whether Germany will sell Israel a sixth vessel.

The attempts of German mediator and intelligence agent Gerhard Conrad to secure the release of Gilad Schalit from his Hamas captors was raised. Responding to Hamas’s rejection of the last offer from Conrad, Merkel said, “We have only one hope – that Gilad Schalit will be released. I wish his family and relatives nothing but the best. I met with them.”

Merkel repeatedly stressed the significance of a two-state solution, placing emphasis on the “Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state” coexisting in a stable Mideast region. The “standstill needs to be overcome” and the “aim is the two-state solution.”


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