Germany opposes unilateral recognition of Palestinian state
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Germany opposes unilateral recognition of Palestinian state

In marked departure from other EU nations, German chancellor says focus should be on renewing peace talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister at the chancellery in Berlin, on November 21, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / ODD ANDERSEN)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister at the chancellery in Berlin, on November 21, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / ODD ANDERSEN)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that Germany was opposed to the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, urging for the renewal of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Merkel said Friday that Berlin supports a two-state solution and “we see how difficult that is, so we also believe that unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state won’t move us forward” toward that goal.

She said it’s better to focus squarely on getting Israeli-Palestinian talks going although “that appears very difficult in the current conditions.”

This week, Spain’s Parliament approved a non-binding resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, following similar motions in Britain and Ireland. Sweden’s new government officially recognized a Palestinian state on Oct. 30,  making it the first major European Union member state to back Ramallah’s statehood bid in this way.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Jerusalem, telling reports during a press conference that European calls and efforts to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state have only pushed peace further away.

“I think that the calls that have been coming from European countries, from European parliaments, to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state pushed peace backwards,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier deliver joint statements to the media before their meeting in Jerusalem on November 16, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP  / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier deliver joint statements to the media before their meeting in Jerusalem on November 16, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

“[These calls] don’t tell the Palestinian Authority that they will have to make genuine compromises and take seriously Israel’s legitimate security concerns. They merely award the Palestinians a prize without asking them at all to make the concessions that are necessary for a genuine peace,” said Netanyahu.

The prime minister went to to say that a negotiated peace was possible only with compromises from both sides.

Steinmeier, who also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday, said he hoped negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would resume as soon as possible, since “returning to the status quo after the last Gaza war [this past summer] is not sufficient.”

“We must step forward and hopefully we have very soon conditions that the negotiations are being able to be continued. There is a need for security and we understand the security concerns here in Israel and perspective for peace,” he went on.

The German FM stressed that there was “no other way as to reach this situation of respecting the needs for security on the one side and developing a perspective for peace in the long-run, beside and beyond negotiations.”

“Unilateral activities are not creating the ground, the atmosphere, in which perhaps another approach, another initiative from our American friends will be successful,” he said.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed spectacularly in late April after a nine-month, US-brokered effort. The two sides have traded blame for the failure while the US has, unofficially, placed considerable blame on continued settlement activity and on Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, several European nations reportedly told US officials that they were seriously considering unilaterally recognizing Palestine as a state, as Sweden did last month, if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians do not resume.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, these countries include some of the US’s closest allies. The report did not specify which, however.

The Palestinians, for their part, are set to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council later this month calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, a senior official said.

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