Germany is becoming increasingly frustrated with the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and this can be seen in a shift in Berlin’s attitude toward the Jewish state, according to German magazine Der Spiegel.
In a report in its latest edition, the weekly publication said that Merkel’s camp was “furious” at a leak of confidential consultations between Jerusalem and Berlin in the German capital in February, which subsequently appeared in the free Israel Hayom daily, owned by staunch Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson.
Furthermore, the magazine said, the leaked details of Merkel’s remarks were “twisted” to give the impression that she supported Netanyahu’s position that a two-state solution with the Palestinians was currently unfeasible, whereas the chancellor had actually said that Israeli settlement construction “makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution.”
(The Times of Israel reported at the time that the German government was displeased with Netanyahu for asserting that Merkel had changed her stance on a two-state solution, and that it dispatched emissaries to Jerusalem clarify Berlin’s position.)
The report also claimed that Netanyahu was having a deleterious effect on Israeli-German relations, to the extent that “many, particularly in the Berlin Foreign Ministry, have begun wondering if Germany sent the wrong signals in the past.” The magazine in particular points to a speech by Merkel in the Knesset in 2008 during which she said that Israel’s security is part of Germany’s “raison d’état.”
This shift by Berlin, Der Spiegel said, could be seen in Germany’s vote in a January 2016 resolution by the European Union on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Prior to the vote, Netanyahu called German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to seek reassurance over a paragraph in the draft resolution criticizing settlement construction.
“I’m counting on you,” Netanyahu told Steinmeier, the report said. But the foreign minister voted in favor of the draft, with the wording condemning settlement expansion unchanged.
According to Der Spiegel, the Merkel government has “lost hope that the peace process can be revived so long as Netanyahu remains in office.”
Another manifestation of this view came when Merkel met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin some two weeks ago. The chancellor, the report said, “was demonstrative in her support.”
“I understand why President Abbas continually seeks out the Security Council,” Merkel said, according to the report. The magazine added that, “Even accusations from Netanyahu that EU labeling rules for products made in the settlements are akin to an anti-Jewish boycott are no longer taken seriously.”