Merkel: Israel May Announce Temporary Settlement Freeze This Fall - Printable Version
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Merkel: Israel May Announce Temporary Settlement Freeze This Fall - --- - 09-19-2009 07:12 PM
Merkel: Israel May Announce Temporary Settlement Freeze This Fall
19/09/2009 01:32:06 PM GMT Comments (1) Add a comment Print E-mail to friend
German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that Israel will announce a temporary settlement freeze this fall, the London-based Arabic language daily Al Hayat reported Saturday.
During a press conference, Merkel was asked by an Al Hayat correspondent to comment on the issue of West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem settlements, which many believe to be the major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace, to which she replied that she was "not hopeless regarding progress, specifically this fall."
Merkel stressed that following her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin last month she did not lose hope and that she believed that the matter required time and patience.
The German chancellor was also asked why Israel was so adamant about the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and whether she thought that this would adversely affect the Arabs living in Israel. Merkel replied "in Germany we also talk about a German state, while refraining from discrimination against anyone from different heritage."
"The goal is to define the majority without placing a question mark over the 1.5 million people of Arab descent," Merkel went on to say. "When a future Palestinian state is established on the basis of mutual understanding I will be pleased as well."
On Friday, the European Union urged Israel "to immediately end all settlement activities, including in occupied East Jerusalem," in a statement issued by the EU's Swedish presidency.
Stressing the urgency of a durable solution in the Gaza crisis, the 27-member bloc also called for the "immediate and unconditional" opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.
The statement came one day after EU leaders met informally in Brussels to discuss financial and economic issues ahead of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. "The European Union remains committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We strongly support the United States' vigorous pursuit of a two state-solution and call on the parties to fully engage in resumed negotiations to create a viable Palestinian state on the basis of the June 1967 borders, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel," the statement said.
The EU urged the Palestinian Authority "to continue in its efforts to improve security and the rule of law, building on the achievements reached so far." The EU underlined the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative and invited Israel and all Arab countries "to take confidence building measures to create an atmosphere conducive to conflict resolution." The EU said it stands ready to use all instruments at its disposal in order to support comprehensive âpeaceâ in the Middle East, including a lasting settlement for the conflicts between Israel and Syria and between Israel and Lebanon.