Merkel criticizes Israel's settlement policy
The construction of Israeli settlements is working "more and more” against a possible two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.

In a Berlin news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Merkel renewed her support for French-led efforts to revive the peace process.

"I have also expressed my criticism to the Israeli prime minister on several occasions regarding settlement activities which are, of course, working against a two-state solution more and more,” she said.

Israel recently pushed ahead with settlement plans in the occupied West Bank despite international criticism.

Under international law, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are deemed as occupied territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war and all Israeli settlements are illegal.

Merkel urged the Palestinian authorities to prevent a new wave of violence. "There can be no excuse for violence,” she told journalists. "And it is important that President Abbas has also made this clear. Security measures should always be implemented in a proportionate way.”

Merkel has been a strong supporter of Israel and has repeatedly underlined Germany’s special responsibility to the Jewish state because of the Holocaust.

Abbas was visiting Berlin as part of a tour to seek support for France’s initiative to hold a peace conference in Paris this summer. He earlier visited Turkey, France and Russia and is due in New York.

While supporting the plan, Merkel underlined the difficulty of negotiations. "It is important to use each and every possibility, even very unlikely ones, to achieve progress,” she said. "But it is not very likely that a day after we will have a peace plan on the table.”

Israel has so far opposed the initiative.

Abbas renewed his commitment to a two-state solution but criticized the Israeli government for not showing interest in reviving the peace process. He said the settlements remained the biggest obstacle to peace, adding that Palestine would move ahead with a plan for a UN Security Council resolution to apply pressure to Israel over the settlements and work towards a solution.

"We know that Israel has already ignored 12 resolutions but we have no other way to go,” he said.

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Last Modified: 2016-04-20 08:50:36
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