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      Merkel Repeats Call for 'Two-State Solution'

      "Part and parcel of the secure future for the State of Israel is the two-state solution," says German Chancellor upon arriving in Israel.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/25/2014, 2:14 AM

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel.

      Merkel arrived with 16 of her ministers in Jerusalem for government to government consultations with Israeli ministers.

      In brief remarks with Merkel, Netanyahu said he would like to focus on three issues during his meeting with the German Chancellor - security, peace and prosperity.

      "On security, I would like to discuss the ways to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability," Netanyahu said. "I believe that this is the greatest challenge to the security of the world."

      On peace, he added, “I would like to discuss with you how we can advance the efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And I can assure you, Angela, that the people of Israel want peace.”

      Netanyahu said that Israelis want peace that would see the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state and “one in which we have the necessary means of security to defend ourselves.”

      On the third issue, prosperity, Netanyahu said, “You brought 16 members of your government here, which enables us to discuss the various ways in which Israel and Germany can further strengthen our cooperation in all the fields.”

      Merkel, for her part, repeated her call for a “two-state solution” to solve the conflict.

      “Part and parcel of the secure future for the State of Israel is the two-state solution, for which the federal government has also been working - a Jewish state of Israel and alongside it, a Palestinian state,” she said.

      Ahead of her arrival, Merkel stressed she will be supporting efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to resolve the decades-old conflict.

      "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 Saturday podcast.

      Merkel and the 16 ministers accompanying her were due to sign cooperation agreements with Israeli ministers in a broad variety of fields including security, diplomacy, economy, justice, science and culture.

      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 PA claims for a future state.

      Merkel dined with Netanyahu on Monday, with her official meetings due to begin the following day, reported AFP.

      On Tuesday, Merkel is to receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres at his Jerusalem residence before returning to Berlin.