Germany said Monday that a summit with Israel planned for later this year has been delayed, with Israeli media reporting it was due to the controversial new regulation law. Israel passed a new law last week that legalizes and protects thousands of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria which were built with government backing and lacked absentee land claims, but against which there are now property claims. Under the Regulation Law, homes built on such properties will be allowed to remain, and owners with proven claims to the land will be given a choice of receiving an alternate plot of land or monetary compensation for 125% of their land's value.
The European Union has condemned the legislation, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it "is in contravention of international law".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials had been scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet on May 10 in Jerusalem. "The two governments decided that the next German-Israeli government meetings will not take place in the spring of this year but only next year," a German government spokesman told AFP.
"The reason for the postponement is the multitude of international meetings under the German presidency of the G20," the spokesman added. But Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that the delay was intended to express Merkel's "dissatisfaction" with the new law. The paper cited an "Israeli source who was in contact with the German Foreign Ministry and the chancellor's office," who both expressed strong disapproval of the law.
In late January, Germany voiced doubts on whether Israel remained committed to reaching a two-state solution after it announced an acceleration of settlements in Judea and Samaria. Until now Germany - a close ally of Israel, usually very cautious in its criticism - has merely asserted that such settlements are an obstacle to the peace process, without questioning Israel's willingness to reach an eventual peace deal with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he still supports a two-state solution, but reportedly told ministers at the time that all restrictions on building in East Jerusalem were being lifted.
Netanyahu, who warmly welcomed Donald Trump's election as US president, will visit the White House Wednesday to test his supportive campaign pledges against emerging policy. The Israeli premier has announced more than 5,000 homes since Trump's January 20 inauguration, as well as the first new Jewish community in Judea or Samaria for more than 20 years.