Merkel: Settlements endanger two-state deal
German Chancellor demands Israeli construction in West Bank stop, saying it endangers 'two-state solution that is urgently needed'. Merkel also addresses Iranian nuclear program, post-election unrest, saying next week's G8 summit must send 'strong message of unity'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded on Thursday that Israeli settlement building in the West Bank stop, saying it endangered efforts to achieve a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
"I think it is now important to get commitments from all sides and that includes the issue of settlement building," Merkel said in a speech to the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
"I am convinced that there must be a stop to this. Otherwise we will not come to the two-state solution that is urgently needed."
Merkel's remarks are in line with the positions of the EU and the US, but were unusually clear-cut for the German leader, who regularly cites her country's special obligation to Israel because of the Nazi Holocaust, in which six million Jews perished.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said US-backed peace talks with Israel cannot resume until all settlement activity has ceased on occupied land the Palestinians want for a state.
Washington has also called for a total halt to settlement building in the West Bank, a demand that has opened the most serious rift in US-Israeli relations in a decade.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel would consider a limited moratorium on new settlement construction, but said it should be part of a broader deal bringing Arab states into the peace process.
Quartet to urge Israel: Freeze all settlement activity
- Jun 26, 2009
Haaretz and Reuters
The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators will urge Israel on Friday to freeze all settlement activity, including "natural growth," a European diplomat said.
The Quartet, which includes the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia, will make the call in a statement after its first formal meeting since U.S. President Barack Obama took office in January.
The world`s richest nations earlier on Friday called on Israel to halt construction in West Bank settlements, including that which Jerusalem seeks to pursue to accommodate natural growth.
The Group of Eight powers also deplored violence in Iran after its disputed election on Friday and urged Tehran to settle the crisis soon through democratic dialogue, according to the final draft statement seen by Reuters.
"We deplore post-electoral violence which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights including freedom of expression...," G8 foreign ministers said in the statement.
On the Middle East, the G8 called on all parties to "re-enter direct negotiations on all standing issues consistent with the roadmap" and it called for a freeze in Jewish settlement construction on the occupied West Bank.
"We also call on both parties to fulfil their obligations under the road map, including a freeze in settlement activity (as well as their `natural growth`) and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism," the statement read.
"We call on all parties to re-enter direct negotiations on all standing issues consistent with the road map, the relevant UNSC resolutions and the Madrid principles..."