German press not buying effort to downplay settlements

"Netanyahu's promotional tour has little success," reports large German business daily.

merkel kisses netanyahu 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
merkel kisses netanyahu 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
"Netanyahu's promotional tour has little success," read the headline in the large German business daily Handelsblatt, which topped its Thursday story on Netanyahu's visit to Berlin. An end to settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem remained the front and center topic of Germany's media coverage in advance of Netanyahu's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday. The conservative Frankfurt-based daily FAZ, which termed Netanyahu as "self-confident and politically matured," wrote that he would rather talk about Iran's atomic weapons program during his visit to Berlin. Instead, Netanyahu, according to FAZ, is "confronted with questions about settlement construction and the two-state solution with the Palestinians." The FAZ report cites that Netanyahu seeks to convince Merkel about his willingness to compromise on settlements and ease on restrictions in the West Bank, because "Germany is still one of the most important trade partners of the regime in Teheran, and that is a thorn in the side of many Israelis." FAZ suggests that in exchange for Israeli concessions on settlements, Merkel will tighten the economic screws on German-Iranian trade. The topic of settlements remained the buzzword before, during and after Netanyahu's visit to Berlin. Merkel's demand that Israel cease its building of settlements dominated the headlines following her meeting with Netanyahu. The wire services and major online German news organizations-such as Spiegel Online and Focus magazine - led their stories with Merkel urging a "stop to settlement construction."