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Israel

Merkel will not recognize unilaterally-declared Palestinian state

Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised Israel Germany will not recognize any unilaterally-declared Palestinian state. Merkel spoke after meeting Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the peace process.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The two leaders held "friendly and direct" talks

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would never recognize any Palestinian state if it were declared without Israel's acceptance.

After talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, Merkel said she supported a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting side by side.

However, she added that this could only be acceptable to Germany if Israel itself recognized Palestinian independence. Palestinian officials have said they might declare statehood in September.

"When it comes to the question of recognizing a Palestinian state, I repeat again that Germany is working for there to be a two-state solution," said Merkel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking at Merkel during the press conference

Merkel's office denied reports she had fallen out with Netanyahu

"Unilateral recognitions therefore definitely do not contribute to achieving this aim... This is our stance now and it will be our stance in September."

"There needs to be mutual recognition, otherwise it is not a two-state solution."

Plan to seek UN recognition of borders

The Palestinians have pledged to seek UN recognition of an independent state within borders established in 1967 - with east Jerusalem as its capital, despite Israel pressing ahead with controversial plans to build Jewish homes there. Netanyahu is on a diplomatic tour aimed at convincing western allies not to acknowledge the state.

Germany currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Merkel, who referred to some "controversy" during the meeting, said that the talks had been "very friendly and very direct."

She added that restoring momentum back to the stalled Middle East peace process was "more pressing than ever."

Merkel's office has denied that the chancellor and Israeli prime minister had fallen out in a highly-charged telephone conversation in February, with Merkel accusing Netanyahu of failing to make progress on peace.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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