Berlin reportedly canceled an upcoming summit between the German and Israeli governments due to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s displeasure with a law passed in the Knesset last week legalizing outpost settlements built on private Palestinian land.
The summit, which was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in May, was set to feature a meeting between Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as between a number of senior government ministers from the two countries.
However, the planned meeting was recently scrapped, with unnamed German and Israeli officials telling the Hebrew-language Haaretz daily that the cancellation of the meeting was due to Merkel’s frustration with the so called Regulation Law legalizing wildcat outposts in the West Bank, as well as the announcement of some 6,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January.
The cancellation of the meeting is just one of a number of both public and behind-closed-doors diplomatic steps that Germany plans to take in response to its disapproval of recent Israeli settlement policies, according to Haaretz.
Germany considers Israel an especially close ally in light of the country’s history, but Berlin leveled harsh criticism against Israel over the law last week, with the foreign ministry saying many Germans who usually “stand firmly by Israel’s side in a spirit of heartfelt solidarity are disappointed” by the passing of this law.
“The confidence we had in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been profoundly shaken,” a statement said.
German officials informed the Prime Minister’s Office the meeting was canceled due to Merkel’s need to prepare for upcoming national elections in September, four months after the planned summit.
“We understand it’s schedule constraints of the German side,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon of the cancellation.
Merkel has yet to comment publicly on the Regulation Law, which was passed last week in a contentious 60 to 52 vote and has been condemned by the United Nations, the European Union, Britain, France and the Palestinian Authority, among others.
The law retroactively legalizes some illegal settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, if the settlers living on the land can prove they built their homes in good faith or received government support such as the provision of water and electricity.
Palestinians whose land is appropriated under the law will receive monetary compensation or an alternate plot elsewhere.
A number of Palestinian and left-wing Israeli NGOs have already petitioned the High Court of Justice to overturn the law. The law is widely expected to be struck down.
Raoul Wootliff and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.