Ahead of Upcoming Visit, Merkel Voices Support for Peace Talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she will fully support efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to relaunch the Middle East peace process during her upcoming visit to Israel, according to AFP.
"We need, as soon as possible, a stable two-country solution, with a Jewish state of Israel and at the same time a state for the Palestinians," Merkel said in her weekly podcast. "We also support the efforts made by US Secretary of State Kerry (and) I will of course use my stay to bring up this issue with the Israeli prime minister."
Merkel, who will be in Israel Monday and Tuesday, recalled that for "historical reasons" Germany was particularly committed to securing a safe future for the Jewish state.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that US attempts to forge an agreement on a framework for peace talks had so far failed, but claimed that the efforts are "extremely serious." Abbas met with Kerry twice in Paris this week in what a US official described as "constructive" talks.
The top US diplomat has spent months trying to get the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs to agree on a framework to guide talks towards a full peace treaty, but the negotiations have shown little sign of progress.
Germany is a steadfast supporter of Israel and is widely seen as the Jewish state's closest ally in Europe, but Merkel has been critical of Israeli construction in areas the PA wants for a future state.
In October, she met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin andurged Israel to show "restraint" in the building of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Germany and Israel have held regular "government consultations" since 2008, an arrangement where the two sides meet at regular intervals to discuss specific topics. The last one was held in Berlin in December 2012 and during that meeting, Merkel and Netanyahu “agreed to disagree” over Israeli construction in areas the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims for a future state.
This will be the fifth such meeting between Germany and Israel. During the visit, President Shimon Peres will award Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest civilian honor.
In addition, a deal will reportedly be signed whereby Berlin will offer consular assistance to Israelis overseas. Israel's ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said the offer was "a special message" from Germany and underscored the importance of relations between the two countries.