Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday criticized Germany’s abstention from voting on a Palestinian status upgrade at the United Nations last week, hours before German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted him in Berlin.
Netanyahu said Merkel’s decision not to vote against the Palestinian move last week would set back the peace process. “It would be dishonest if I were to conceal that I was disappointed over how the Germans voted at the United Nations, just as many Israelis were,” Netanyahu told German newspaper Die Welt en route to a state visit in Berlin.
“I think Chancellor Merkel thought that this vote would somehow promote peace. In reality the opposite happened: After the UN vote, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas made efforts to unite with the Hamas terrorists. The resolution did not call for a recognition of the Jewish state or to end the conflict with us or to give security guarantees. Rather, it emboldened the Palestinians to harden their positions and not to enter negotiations.”
Netanyahu also rejected international admonishment of Israel for its plans to expand settlements beyond the Green Line, especially in the area east of Jerusalem known as E1, calling critics “oversensitive.”
“What’s our big crime? We are building in the areas that will remain in Israel after a peace agreement,” he said. “This is the land where Jews have been living for almost 4,000 years. We’re talking about suburbs that belong to the Jerusalem municipality. No map is being changed and nothing is being prejudged. People are oversensitive.”
Earlier, Netanyahu thanked the Czech Republic for voting against the United Nations resolution. The Czech Republic was one of only nine countries to vote on November 29 against the resolution at the UN General Assembly.
“Thank you for your country’s opposition to the one-sided resolution at the United Nations; thank you for your friendship; thank you for your courage… The Czech Republic stood with the United States and Canada and a handful of other countries against the prevailing international current,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas in Prague.
Netanyahu equated last week’s UN vote to the 1938 Munich Conference, during which European countries agreed to cede Nazi Germany the Sudetenland, which belonged to Czechoslovakia, in a failed attempt to appease the encroaching Nazi war machine. “History has shown us time and again that what is right is not what is popular, and if there is a people in the world who can appreciate that, it’s the people of your country,” he added.
“The world forced this proud democracy,” he said, referring to his Czech hosts, “to sacrifice its vital interests. The international community applauded almost uniformly without exception. They hailed this as something that would bring peace — ‘peace in our time,’ they said. But rather than bring peace, those forced concessions from Czechoslovakia paved the way to the worst war in history.
In Berlin, Netanyahu and Merkel were expected to sign cooperation agreements in the fields of counterterrorism, cyber-defense, science, agriculture and environmental protections.
A delegation of ministers and officials is traveling with the prime minister, and members were slated to hold a summit with their German counterparts.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was supposed to join Netanyahu on his trip, canceled his participation at the last minute, citing his need to oversee party affairs.
Sam Ser contributed to this report.