Merkel says Israel may announce temporary settlement freeze this fall 19Sep09 September 20, 2009

Haaretz  – 19 September 2009

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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 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 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.”

Merkel also addressed the report issued by the UN’s Goldstone Commission, which accused Israel of multiple war crimes during its offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter, saying that it was nothing to get worked up about. She suggested looking to the future and investing efforts in preventing such clashes from arising again.


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