Berlin – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was concerned about Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Merkel told reporters before holding talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin that Israel’s building undermines progress toward a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Israel is building settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, seized by Israel in a 1967 war and occupied for nearly 50 years, where Palestinians want to establish their state and capital.
She said: “As before, I see no reasonable alternative to the goal of a two-state solution” .
On the issue of the settlements, she added: “I am very concerned about developments in the West Bank, which are leading to an erosion of the basis for a two-state solution.”
NAN reports that the high-level round of talks on Israeli settlements ended on Thursday
without agreement over limiting future construction on land the Palestinians want for a state.
The four days of high-level meetings in Washington marked the latest step by President Donald Trump’s aides
aimed at opening the way to renewed peace diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians, despite deep skepticism
in the United States and Middle East over the chances for success.
Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who recently returned from a visit to the region, led the U.S.
delegation in what were described as “intensive discussions” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s
chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.
Inspite of setting a more positive tone toward Israel than his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump urged Netanyahu
during a White House visit last month to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
The two then agreed that their aides would seek an accommodation on how much Israel can build and where.
“The U.S. delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of
moving towards a peace agreement,” according to a joint statement released by the White House.
“The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement
activity that takes those concerns into consideration,” the White House said.
“The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.”
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since 2014 and settlements are one of the most
Palestinians want the West Bank and East Jerusalem for their own state, along with the Gaza Strip.
Most countries consider Israeli settlements, built on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war, to be illegal.
Israel disagrees, citing historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests.
Trump has expressed some ambivalence about a two-state solution, the mainstay of U.S. policy for the past two
He recently invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit.