German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday implored Israel not to “lose sight” of the need to establish a Palestinian state, as she wrapped up a two-day farewell visit.
Merkel’s support for a two state solution has been one of the key disagreements with Israel’s leadership during her 16 years in office, which were characterized by unwavering support for Israel.
She said ,“We must not lose sight of the right of the Palestinians to have a chance to live,”. “Therefore one should under no circumstances, even as it becomes more and more difficult because of the settlements, lose sight of the issue of a two state solution,” Merkel told a panel at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, a hard liner who opposes a Palestinian state on Israeli-occupied lands, has ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians.
Instead, he has advocated what he says is a more pragmatic approach of improving living conditions for the Palestinians as a way of lowering tensions.
Merkel welcomed Bennett’s intentions but said such an approach would not be enough. she said “I think that such a long-running issue will not disappear from the agenda, even if there are improved relations with neighboring Arab states”.
The deal fell apart after then-President Donald Trump, with Israel’s support, withdrew in 2018. The Biden administration has been trying to revive that deal over Israeli objections.
Iran has marched forward with its nuclear activities, such as increased uranium enrichment a step that can move it closer to building a bomb.
Merkel said that disagreements among the world powers that negotiated the original deal have weakened their position and allowed Iran to buy time and expand its military activities across the region.
Merkel was scheduled to visit in August, but the trip was postponed after the crisis in Afghanistan in which the Taliban seized power. She then delayed the visit until after last month’s German election. She now remains in office in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed, a process that could take weeks or even months.