International

Angela Merkel: Israel ‘can’t lose sight’ of deal with Palestinians

By The Associated Press

JERUSALEM: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged Israel not to ignore the need to establish a Palestinian state as it completed a two-day farewell visit.

Merkel’s support for the two-state solution has been one of the major disagreements with Israel’s leadership during her 16-year tenure, which was characterized by unwavering support for Israel.

Speaking at an Israeli think tank, Merkel welcomed the historic diplomatic agreements between Israel and four Arab countries led by the United Arab Emirates last year. But she said the deals, known as the Abraham Accords, did not erase the need for Israel to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

“We must not lose sight of the right of Palestinians to live,” he said. Merkel told a panel at the National Institute for Security Studies in Tel Aviv, “Therefore under no circumstances, even as settlements become more and more difficult, the issue of a two-state solution should not be overlooked.” “

Supporters of the Abraham Accords, which were touted by the Trump administration, have praised them for breaking the long-standing belief that Israel cannot forge relations with the Arab world before reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. Is.

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, a fanatic who opposes a Palestinian state on Israeli-occupied lands, has ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians. Instead, he has advocated for what he says is a more pragmatic approach to improving living conditions for Palestinians as a way to reduce tensions. His government, a patchwork of Dovish, nationalist and Arab parties, which took office in June, has so far announced no major policy changes.

Merkel welcomed Bennett’s intentions but said such an approach would not be enough.

“I think that such a long-running issue (the conflict with the Palestinians) will not disappear from the agenda, even if there are better relations with neighboring Arab states,” she said.

Throughout Merkel’s visit, she was hailed as a “true friend” of Israel. His agenda included meetings with Israeli leaders and a stop at Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

She has repeatedly acknowledged Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security and said she is confident her country’s next government – to be determined in lengthy coalition talks after an inconclusive election last month – will take a similar stance.

A major issue on the agenda was Iran’s nuclear program. Germany was one of the world powers that negotiated the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.

The deal fell apart in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from Israel’s support. The Biden administration is trying to revive that deal over Israel’s objections.

Israel considers Iran its greatest enemy, citing the country’s military presence in neighboring Syria and its support for hostile terrorist groups throughout the region. It accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon – a charge Iran denies – and believes the international agreement did not have adequate safeguards.

Meanwhile, Iran has moved on with its nuclear activities, such as increasing uranium enrichment – ​​a move that could move it closer to making a bomb.

Merkel said disagreements between world powers negotiating the original deal have weakened her position and allowed Iran to buy time and expand its military activities across the region.

“Iran knows this, and therefore we are facing a very serious situation,” she said. He acknowledged he had no solution, but called on major players, including Russia and China, to take a stronger public stance against Iran.

“The more countries make it clear that they do not accept Iran’s ambitions and aggression, the better for the region,” she said.

Israel was formed in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust and the two countries established diplomatic relations only in 1965. But over the decades, those relations have heated up and Germany is one of Israel’s closest and most important international allies and trade partners.

Merkel was scheduled to visit in August, but the visit was postponed following the crisis in Afghanistan in which the Taliban seized power. He then delayed the visit until after last month’s German election. She now holds office in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed, a process that can take weeks or even months.

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