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Israeli premier arrives in Berlin for tense talks
Photo: DPA

Israeli premier arrives in Berlin for tense talks

Published: 05 Dec 2012 20:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Dec 2012 20:10 GMT+01:00

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived for tense talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday as plans to build thousands of new Jewish settler homes strained ties with key allies.

Netanyahu joined Merkel for a private dinner at her Berlin chancellery ahead of a regular meeting between most of their cabinet ministers Thursday that risks being overshadowed by the diplomatic storm.

The Israeli leader arrived from Prague where he had applauded the Czech Republic for its "friendship and courage" as the only European state to have opposed the Palestinian status upgrade at the United Nations last week.

Prague joined Israel, the United States and Canada in opposing the bid as the UN General Assembly Thursday approved non-member observer status for Palestine by an overwhelming vote.

"Thank you for your country's opposition to the one-sided resolution by the United Nations, for your friendship, for your courage," Netanyahu told reporters following talks with his Czech counterpart Petr Necas.

"The Czech Republic stood with the US, Canada and a handful of other countries against the prevailing international current, but history has shown us time and again that what is right is not what is popular."

Setting a bitter tone for the next leg of his trip, Netanyahu told German daily Die Welt that he was "disappointed" that Berlin had abstained from voting despite reported pleas by Israel to reject the resolution.

"People are convinced that there is a special relationship between Germany and Israel," he said.

"I think Chancellor Merkel was of the opinion that this vote would in some way foster peace. In fact the opposite is the case: after the UN vote, the Palestinian Authority under president (Mahmud) Abbas is making plans to join with the terrorists of Hamas."

Netanyahu's first European visit since the Palestinian UN upgrade comes amid mounting international calls for Israel to drop plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in a highly contentious strip of the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem.

He announced the move in reaction to the Palestinian success at the UN and has refused to go back on the decision despite strong international condemnation.

In Prague Wednesday, he insisted he was also committed to peace and "a two-state solution of two peoples."

"Israel is committed to a genuine peace, a genuine and durable peace, for peace to endure, it must be a peace that we can defend," he said.

"Unfortunately on Thursday, the Palestinians asked the world to give them a state without providing Israel with peace and security in return," Netanyahu said, adding that the "UN resolution completely ignored Israel's security."

France, Britain, Spain, the European Union, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Egypt have all summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the plans, which also drew criticism from Russia and Japan.

Germany, long considered Israel's closest ally in Europe with ties rooted in the country's bid for atonement over the Nazi Holocaust, stopped short of such a move. But Merkel sharply condemned the policy as potentially torpedoing hopes for peace and the viability of a Palestinian state.

"Israel is undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate and the geographic space for a future Palestinian state, which must be the basis for a two-state solution, is disappearing," her spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday.

Media reports had said this week's talks in Berlin could even be called off due to the friction.

Israel's stance has also worried the United States, its traditional top ally, which asked Netanyahu to reconsider the decision. But Netanyahu, who is facing stiff opposition at home ahead of a snap election next January, has refused to go back on it.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:13 December 5, 2012 by Tonne
Regretably the only peace that Israel appears to desire is the peace of a Palestinian graveyard.
21:59 December 5, 2012 by McM
This should be an interesting meeting with lots of baggage to pack away. A slightly ruffled Israeli PM who has just been on the pointy end of a few thousand Iranian rockets guided the weird and wonderful Hamas club trying to gain some global traction And his wam bam response team.

.The pragmatic Dr. Merkal who by all accounts not feeling as guilty as the German's usually do about all things post war trying to balance reality and the popular press over a common EU position on the latest post squabble wash up. Yep, let's meet.

After 2000 years plus of ranting raving and brawling over what by now can only be called some God forsaken strip of land at the east end of the pond all predicated on

conflicting faiths and pointless belief systems, surely, it is time for the vested interest gangs that orchestrate this ongoing crap should get pushed out of the area and let families from all sides and walks of life just get on with their lives and have some peace.

Frankly both ruling parties in this regional conflict make me sick. I wonder how Dr. Merkal really feels about all this?
22:07 December 5, 2012 by YSol
This settlement movement by Israel has really gone too far. We are not living through the Holocaust. This is a matter of justice and it is time for Germany and all EU countries to simply tell Israel that these latest settllements in East Jerusalem and Male Adumim must stop or Israel will suffer the consequences. How long must the world go on placating this regime of occupation while they continue to spit in the face of everyone else. Enough is enough. Be firm Merkel and do not be crushed by his emptyslogans of peace. Israel wants land. Not peace.
09:25 December 6, 2012 by Edin
Please check what Miko Peled as an Israeli General's Son has to say about his Governments policy. It is truly enlightning. http://youtu.be/TOaxAckFCuQ
16:27 December 10, 2012 by raandy
"Israel is committed to a genuine peace, a genuine and durable peace, for peace to endure, it must be a peace that we can defend," he said., Didn't Shakespeare say"actions speak louder than words"
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