Merkel: Germany won’t normalize ties with Iran unless it recognizes Israel
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Merkel: Germany won’t normalize ties with Iran unless it recognizes Israel

We're talking to Tehran, but it's not friendship, says chancellor, with Netanyahu at her side, in response to Times of Israel question

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

German Chancellor Angela Merke and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu talk prior to a lunch as part of a one day governmental meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, Pool)
German Chancellor Angela Merke and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu talk prior to a lunch as part of a one day governmental meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, Pool)

BERLIN — Germany will not normalize its relations with Iran unless or until it recognizes Israel, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.

Merkel was answering a question from The Times of Israel at a joint press conference alongside visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Asked about the apparent rush by Germany to rebuild relations with the regime in Tehran, Merkel answered: “We made very clear — the federal government, all parties that make up the coalition — that there cannot exist normal, friendly relations with Iran as long as Iran doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

She said that this had been made plain to Iran at every relevant opportunity: “In all conversations [with Iranian counterparts], my ministers, and I myself if applicable, have made this clear.”

She said that while Germany and Iran were indeed now in contact with each other, the ties could not be described as friendship given Iran’s hostility to Israel. “There is difference between friendship and talking to each other,” she declared.

Merkel also said that the current climate in the Middle East does not allow for major steps toward the creation of a Palestinian state, calling instead for small steps to safeguard a future two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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