Angela Merkel angrily cancels Israel summit over new settlements law, report says

Reichstag officially cancels talks due to German election, but sources say real reason is anger at new law legalising settlements built on private Palestinian land 

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The Independent Online

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly nixed a conference in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of a bill recently passed by the Knesset which retroactively legalises 4,000 settler Jewish settler homes.  

While the annual summit with the Israeli government scheduled for May 10 was officially cancelled because of Germany’s general election in September, an Israeli source connected to the German Foreign Ministry told Haaretz that the real reason for the cancellation is that Berlin is angry at both the ‘Regulation Bill’ and other recent Israeli settlement policy moves.

Last week Israel voted to legalise 250 ‘outpost’ settlements built without government approval on privately owned land in the West Bank.

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Under the new legislation - which the country’s attorney general has warned he will not defend, and could put Israel at risk of breaching international law - Palestinian owners are to be given other land, or compensated financially. 

The international community, which views all Israeli construction over the 1967 Green Line as illegal, does not recognise the difference between ‘outpost’ settlements and those authorised by the government. 

The controversial new law came into effect almost immediately after Israel announced plans for more than 11,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem. 

It is thought that the bold new moves from Israel’s ruling coalition have been encouraged by the election of US President Donald Trump. The new president has signalled he is far more sympathetic to Israeli interests than predecessor Barack Obama. 

Berlin released a statement condemning the new policies, which it said endangered the peace process and signal that Israel is no longer committed to a two-state-solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Haaretz’ Israeli source said that the German government had been instructed to “express its dismay at the legislation” both publicly and in diplomatic channels. 

German officials approached by the paper did not deny the Regulation Bill was the reason the conference - held to show the closeness between the two countries - was cancelled. 

“The governments’ summit will most likely not take place in May,” one German Foreign Ministry source said. “Regarding the elections – they are only in September."