Germany urges settlement ‘restraint,’ pledges aid to PA

Abbas meets with Merkel in Berlin, says Palestinians conducting talks with Israel ‘very earnestly’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (photo credit: AP/Michael Sohn)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (photo credit: AP/Michael Sohn)

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin Friday and called on Israel to restrain its settlement activities, which she said were jeopardizing the newly renewed peace talks with the Palestinians.

“That the Palestinians have halted their attempts to join further United Nations bodies is an up-front concession for these talks, and in the same measure we have appealed to Israel to restrain itself in extending settlements,” Merkel said in a joint press conference with Abbas after an hour-long meeting, according to AFP.

“I have repeatedly said that to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, since we ought not to imperil this consultation process,” she added.

Merkel also vowed to provide continued financial succor to the perennially cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

“We have always advocated a two-state solution. We have always advocated aiding and supporting the Palestinian territories, advancing the peace process, advancing economic development, and I am pretty sure we will conduct our foreign policy with this continuity,” Merkel was quoted as saying.

The German leader’s promise of further support comes in the wake of a European Union report that accused the Palestinian Authority of squandering nearly €2 billion ($2.7 billion) in European aid through corruption and mismanagement.

“I stress the Palestinian side is very earnestly trying to conduct these talks despite the challenge of settlements,” Abbas said. “We should accept this historic opportunity. We appeal to the Israeli side to seize this chance.”

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