The chairman of the German-Israeli parliamentary group and member of the opposition Greens party, Jerzy Montag, told news agency DPA that the chancellor should address controversial issues plaguing relations between Israel and the Palestinian authorities such as the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. That view was echoed by Ralf Mützenich of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Werner Hoyer, foreign policy expert of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), said he regretted the fact that the chancellor was not to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah during the visit.
Merkel’s three-day trip to Israel marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. The trip is intended to help cement already close relations between Germany and Israel. The chancellor will become the first German chancellor to address the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
In her weekly video message broadcast on the Internet on Sunday, Merkel said Germany would always take responsibility for its Nazi past.
“We are convinced that on the one hand we should never lose sight of our responsibility for the past – and German policy never will – on the other, we should look to the future of our relations,” she said.
During a telephone conversation between Merkel and Abbas on Friday, the Palestinian leader “asked the chancellor to bring up with Israel the question of Jewish settlement building, which considerably complicates bilateral negotiations and the application of the ‘road map’,” the German Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
The Ministry said Berlin will host an international conference in June to seek ways to help the Palestinian police and judiciary prepare the Palestinian territories for eventual statehood. Foreign ministers from Europe, the United States and Russia and UN and Arab delegates will be invited to the summit.
The so-called “road map” was drawn up by Israel and the Palestinians under the auspices of the Quartet – the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia – as a guide towards a two-state solution to their crisis. It foresees an end to Palestinian militant attacks on Israel and an end to Israeli settlement building on Palestinian land, but has seen scant progress since it was drawn up in 2003 amid ongoing violence.