Jerusalem- Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel warmly welcomed Israel on her last official visit on Sunday, despite sharp differences between the two allies over key issues such as Iran’s nuclear program and the formation of a Palestinian state.
Merkel said Germany was committed to resuming an international nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel opposes. He also said that Germany believes that a two-state solution is the best way to end decades of conflict with the Palestinians.
“Personally, I believe that at this point, even if it seems almost impossible at this point, the idea of a two-state solution should not be taken off the table, it should not be buried (…) Merkel told a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett that the Palestinians should be able to stay safe in one state, adding that there was no point in building Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Bennett, a former settlement leader who opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, responded immediately.
“In our experience, a Palestinian state means a terrorist state, about seven minutes from my home and anywhere in Israel,” he said.
The president, who calls himself a “pragmatic man,” indicated he was ready to take action on the ground to improve living conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This was one of the few differences between the two allies during Merkel’s two-day visit, a two-day trip at the end of a 16-year period that features almost constant support for Israel.
He was widely regarded as Israel’s “true friend.” He reiterated Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security and said he believed the next German government, which would be decided in lengthy coalition talks after last month’s by-elections, would take a similar stance.
“I am hopeful that any German government, including the one that follows me, will feel committed to Israel’s security, and I am confident that any successor who will become German chancellor will do the same,” he said. Will see. ”
Most of the talks during the visit were expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program. Although the two leaders promised to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, they advocated different strategies to achieve it.
Germany was a key partner in the 2015 international agreement with Iran. The agreement was broken after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 with the support of Israel. The Biden administration tried to restore the agreement despite Israeli objections.
“I have never considered (the agreement) ideal, but it is better than an agreement,” Merkel said. The foreign minister said the situation was “very difficult” as Iran continues to enrich uranium, and called for talks with international powers negotiating the deal, including Russia and China.
Israel considers Iran its worst enemy and points to Iran’s military presence in neighboring Syria and its support for hostile armed groups in the region. He also accused Tehran of seeking a nuclear weapon, which the country denies, saying a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to Israel’s existence.
No attempt to please Iranians. He described the reconciliation as weak, “said Bennett, who has accused Iran of dragging the talks on advancing its weapons development.” This is a crucial moment, and Germany’s position in particular. It’s important. ”
Talks on Iran were expected to continue throughout the day. Merkel also plans to stay at the Israeli National Holocaust Memorial.