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(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.
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.
Analysis: Iran, settlements overshadow Netanyahu-Merkel talks
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.”
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
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
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
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