German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Israel with cabinet

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she is visiting Israel with most of her new cabinet in order to show Germany's friendship with the Jewish state and that her country is working to secure the future of Israel.

Merkel was speaking at an evening press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Germany is Israel's closest European ally and holds an annual joint Cabinet session with its Israeli counterparts. Of late however, tensions with Europe, and also Germany, have risen over West Bank settlement policies. 

"We have come here with almost the whole of our new government and we wanted to show you in this way that this is indeed a very strong friendship," Merkel said in German and relayed in English through a translator. 

Merkel said Germany has been working with Israel "shoulder to shoulder" over the past five decades "to secure the future of the state of Israel." She said that "part and parcel of the security of Israel is the two state solution...a Jewish state of Israel and alongside it a Palestinian state." 

Standing at her side Netanyahu said the US mediated peace talks, as well as international efforts to quell Iran's nuclear program, would figure prominently in his meetings with Merkel. 

Germany also belongs to a group of nations currently negotiating with Iran, Israel's arch foe and a particular nemesis for Netanyahu. 

"I would like to discuss ways to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability. I believe that this is the greatest challenge to the security of the world," Netanyahu said. 

He also said he wanted to discuss ways to advance peace efforts with the Palestinians. 

"The people of Israel want peace, they want a real peace, they want a peace that ends the conflict that finally gets the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state and one in which we have the necessary means of security to defend ourselves against any possible contingency in this turbulent Middle East," Netanyahu said. 

Germany's foreign minister heaped tough criticism on Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank ahead of the visit, calling the construction "disruptive" to peace efforts and saying it would be raised during two days of meetings with Israeli leaders. 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the blunt remarks in Madrid before flying to Israel. 

US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be a main focus in meetings, and German opposition to settlement construction will be raised, Steinmeier said in a statement. 

"We'll discuss where things stand on the peace process and will try to find out what the obstacles are that prevent a solution," he said. "The settlement policy clearly remains among those obstacles and this will of course be raised. We said clearly in the past that we don't just consider decisions to expand settlements as unhelpful, but as disruptive of peace efforts, and of course we will discuss this during our visit," he said.

Read more: Israel-Palestine talks falter despite US efforts
Israel fears withdrawal by EU firms is too high a price to pay
Israel ‘undermines peace talks’ by approving 558 apartments in occupied east Jerusalem
 

Israel says the fate of settlements should be resolved through the peace talks along with other core issues like security and Palestinian incitement. It has played down the importance of settlements, saying the issue should be resolved in the talks, and demands the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. The Palestinians have objected, saying that would undermine the rights of Israeli Arabs as well as the fate of Palestinian refugees claiming lost properties in what is now Israel. 

The annual joint Cabinet meetings highlight the strong bond between Israel and Germany seven decades after the Holocaust, when Nazi Germany killed six million Jews. The countries only established diplomatic relations in 1965, nearly two decades after the Holocaust. Germany is a key Israeli trade partner. 

But tensions have been rising. Earlier this month lawmakers from a nationalist Israeli political party stormed out of parliament to object to comments by the visiting president of the European Parliament, who is German. Martin Schulz enraged the lawmakers when he asked whether claims he had heard from a young Palestinian about Israel's control over water resources were true. 

Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, demanded an apology. "I will not accept untruthful patronizing of the people of Israel in our parliament, certainly not in German," he said. 

The figures cited by Schulz were indeed erroneous, but his general concern — that Israel consumes far more water than the Palestinians — was accurate, according to environmental groups. 

Shortly before Merkel's arrival, Germany announced that her deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, an outspoken critic of Israel, was not participating. 

Gabriel two years ago dubbed the conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron as "apartheid" - a term that Israel unequivocally rejects as false. Gabriel's office cited "illness" for the last-minute cancellation. AP

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - £60,000

£55000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Business Analyst,HR,Halifax,£400-450pd

£400 - £450 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone