Officials: Netanyahu 'distorted' Merkel's comments

Officials in Germany deny Chancellor Merkel has given up on two-state solution, as she appeared to hint during meeting with Netanyahu.

Elad Benari ,

Netanyahu and Merkel at press conference in Berlin
Netanyahu and Merkel at press conference in Berlin
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Has German Chancellor Angela Merkel given up on the “two-state solution”? The answer is no, according to several senior German officials.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Sunday that the German officials are accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of distorting Merkel's positions on the two-state solution.

The officials, who were quoted by the German newspaper Die Welt, said they "were surprised by what he said."

Merkel and Netanyahu met several weeks ago in Berlin for the traditional Government-to-Government meeting between the two countries.

At a joint news conference with Netanyahu, Merkel appeared to back down from her past insistence that the “two-state solution” was the only way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when she said, “Now is not the time for a significant step forward [in the two-state solution]”.

The Chancellor also stressed that “progress towards coexistence, based on the two-state solution, is possible”, and also added that Germany "will be ready to aid progress on different economic projects that will help the two-state solution."

After his return from Germany, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, Netanyahu said that the chancellor had reformed her positions and that her words represent "a more realistic approach to the situation in our region and between us and the Palestinians."

"I remember when I made these statements a year ago and everyone came out against me. Today, I hear the same statements from world leaders including Obama and the German chancellor, who understand what practically can be done at the moment," he added, in reference to recent statements by officials in the United States,who admitted that President Barack Obama recognizes that reaching a two-state solution before he leaves office is unlikely.

The newspaper further reported that Merkel's Bureau was very surprised by Netanyahu's statements, with the officials stating there was no actual change in her position on the Palestinian issue and that she had emphasized this in her discussion with Netanyahu.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a parliamentarian from Merkel's party, accused Netanyahu distorting the Chancellor's words, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

"He cannot use his visit to his best friend in the EU to misrepresent the German position," Kiesewetter wrote on his Twitter account, adding, "We continue to support the two-state solution as the way to resolve the conflict."

Members of Merkel's coalition added to the criticism against Netanyahu. A Social Democratic party spokesperson said, "The position of coalition parties is clear: The only solution to the conflict is the two-state solution."

Germany is considered a close friend of Israel, but there have been tensions in recent years over the Palestinian issue, as Merkel has insisted that the “two-state solution” is the best way to end the conflict.

At a Government-to-Government meeting in Berlin in December 2012, Merkel and Netanyahu agreed to disagree” over Israeli construction in areas the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims for a future state.