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Germany, Israel stress friendship despite differences over settlement plans

English.news.cn   2012-12-07 03:19:04            

BERLIN, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Germany and Israel said on Thursday that their special and strategic relations could hardly be affected by their differences over the new Jewish settlement plans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that Germany hope that Israel would give up its recent decision to build some 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"On the settlement issue, we agree to disagree. I expressed my views. It's an Israeli decision," Merkel said after meeting her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

The German government warned earlier that such a move was undermining confidence in "Israel's readiness to negotiate."

Most European nations were also displeased with Israel's new settlement plans, as the European Union, France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, as well as Australia, summoned their Israeli ambassadors as a gesture of protest.

However, Netanyahu said he would not change the policy, adding that the root of the disputes is not about the settlements.

"I hope that we can attract at least part of the Palestinian people to engage in a discussion about mutual co-existence and mutual peace," he said.

Besides settlement issue, Netanyahu's visit to Germany, viewed as a special ally to Israel partly due to the history of the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War, was also overshadowed by Berlin's abstention in a UN vote last month on granting the Palestinians non-member status.

Before meeting with Merkel, Netanyahu told the German daily Die Welt that he was "disappointed" with Germany's voting decision, adding that the UN resolution "ignored Israel's security needs."

However, the two leaders also stressed the solid relationship between the two countries. At the press conference, Netanyahu repeatedly thanked Merkel and her government for the lasting commitment to "Jewish security and the well-being of the Jewish state."

Merkel said the Israel's security remains a central plank and cornerstone of German government policy.

The chancellor also called for a restarting of peace negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians.

"We believe that work towards a two-state solution must be continued," she said. "We must keep trying to go back to negotiations and one-sided moves should be avoided."

Netanyahu said Israel was fully committed to "achieving peace with the Palestinians based on the principle of two states for two peoples."

Netanyahu has expressed his support for a two-state solution, but it remained unclear on what compromises he is ready to make.

The Palestinians said Netanyahu attached unacceptable conditions to the solution, such as remaining Israeli military existence in the West Bank and holding complete sovereignty over east Jerusalem.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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