German FM meets Abbas, says no alternative to two-state solution

Ahead of Israel visit, Frank-Walter Steinmeier calls for calm over Jerusalem tensions.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) shakes hands with Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ramallah,  November 15, 2014 (photo credit: REUTERS/OSAMA FALAH/PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE ()
PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) shakes hands with Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ramallah, November 15, 2014
A Palestinian state can only be established through negotiations with Israel, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday in Ramallah, as he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“There is no alternative to negotiations for achieving the two-state solution and establish the Palestinian state,” he said.
Palestinians have called on European states to unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, irrespective of the negotiating process.
On Tuesday, Spain’s parliament will hold a symbolic vote in this respect, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El País.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party to urge the government “to recognize ‘Palestine’ as a state... with the belief that coexistence between the states of Israel and ‘Palestine’ can be achieved through dialogue and negotiations that guarantee peace and security, respect for citizen’s human rights, and stability in the region.”
It follows similar nonbinding votes by parliamentarians in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The French National Assembly will hold a nonbinding vote on the issue on November 28.
Steinmeier told Abbas, “I am aware and understand that the Palestinians have been waiting for that for a long time; however, I have expressed my position that there is no an alternative to such negotiations to reach a peaceful solution that is conducive to the establishment of the Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in security and peace.”
Noting that conditions are not favorable for the resumption of negotiations, the German foreign minister said: “I believe however that what is important now is to ease the tension and we are very pleased about the intensive meetings held with relevant actors in Amman that have resulted in joint efforts aimed at easing the tension, protests, and the manifestations of violence and improve the situation regarding al-Aksa Mosque compound.”
Following the meeting, PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said that Abbas “briefed the German guest on the latest developments as well as the latest escalation triggered by the Israeli government in occupied Jerusalem, especially at al-Aksa Mosque.”
Maliki added: “Abbas affirmed the Palestinian leadership’s position to deescalate tensions in the Aksa Mosque and maintain the status quo that has been in effect since 1967.
Under this arrangement the compound is under the control of the Islamic Wakf and only Muslims can worship there. Jews and Christians are free to visit.
He also stressed that if Israel is serious about (its intention) to deescalate the situation, it has to comply with this status quo, allow worshipers entry into the mosque without any barriers or complications and provide them with all possible facilitations.
Maliki said that the Palestinian leadership appreciated Steinmeier’s position and willingness to contribute to the easing of recent tensions, and expressed his hope that this meeting would make such a contribution.
Steinmeier warned against transforming the conflict into a religious one and stressed the importance of establishing an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.
“We view with great concern the recent attacks and operations that claimed many lives. All parties bear responsibility for breaking this cycle and deescalate violence. So, we will make progress if we make one step forward and allow Muslims unhindered entry into Al-Aksa Mosque Complex,” Steinmeier said.
Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.