German leader calls Netanyahu, stresses need for two-state solution
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German leader calls Netanyahu, stresses need for two-state solution

Comments, reported only by Merkel’s office, follow PM’s campaign vow to annex settlements, rejection of Palestinian statehood

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands during a joint press conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on October 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands during a joint press conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on October 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday his reelection and stressed the need to work toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Merkel’s office said she emphasized in a phone conversation the continued relevance of a two-state solution, which she said should be the goal of international efforts, after Netanyahu vowed in the final days of his reelection campaign last week not to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he said would threaten Israel’s existence.

Merkel also expressed her willingness to work closely with the incoming Israeli government.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office did not mention the two-state comments, but said Merkel had invited the prime minister to meet in Berlin after the new government is formed.

The European Union on Monday also called for a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the wake of the elections. In a statement, the EU said it would work with the sides “in order to make progress toward a just and lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”

In interviews days before the elections last week, Netanyahu said he intended to gradually apply Israeli law to all settlements, and that he hoped he could do so with the agreement of the United States.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) in Berlin, Germany on June 4, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

Flatly ruling out Palestinian statehood, which he said would “endanger our existence,” Netanyahu promised to permanently maintain overall Israeli security control in the West Bank and to formalize Israeli rule over the 400,000-plus Israeli Jews in the settlements. This would apply not only to major settlement blocs, but also to isolated settlements, he indicated.

During the final stretch of his election campaign, Netanyahu pledged for the first time to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in a bid to rally his right-wing base.

Netanyahu has reneged on election eve promises before, but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out already diminishing hopes for Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu has also said he told US President Donald Trump he would not evacuate “a single person” from any of the settlements, amid reports that he believes Trump will back him on settlement sovereignty if the Palestinians reject the Trump peace plan.

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