German ministers visiting Israel, Palestinian areas
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle began a one-day tour of Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday, and warned of the danger of the deadlock in the Middle East peace process, DPA reported.
"We must be careful, that we don't get into a very dangerous dead-end here in the Middle East," he told reporters in Jerusalem.
"It is absolutely clear that time is working against all of us," he said. The freeze of negotiations could quickly lead to new violence. "Lack of communication is the greatest danger."
Accompanied by Development Minister Dirk Niebel, Westerwelle arrived in Jerusalem late Monday, after a lightning visit to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
The German top diplomat visited a German evangelical foundation on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, before travelling to Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem on the central West Bank.
There he was scheduled for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Acting Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He also was expected to look at Israeli settlement construction.
In the afternoon, meetings are scheduled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, back in Jerusalem.
Niebel meanwhile visited Gaza to oversee German-sponsored development projects, including a water purification plant.
Westerwelle is expected to try to convince the Palestinians to drop their plan to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize their state in September, in the absence of negotiations with Israel.
Abbas has conditioned a revival of the talks on a freeze of Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama, in a joint news conference in Washington one week ago, rejected out of hand the Palestinian-proposed UN resolution as a "unilateral action" that should be avoided.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, hosting Netanyahu in Rome Monday, also backed the Israeli premier by rejecting the proposed September UN move.
But while other key European states are on the fence and Washington is strongly opposed, some 120-130 General Assembly member states are already said to have voiced support for the recognition proposal.