Palestinian independence declaration not helpful, Westerwelle says
Any unilateral declaration of independence by Palestinians will not bring the sides "closer to comprehensive peace and security," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Sunday, ahead of a visit to Israel and Gaza, DPA reported.
"There is no alternative to a negotiated solution," he told the Israeli Yediot Ahronoth daily, in an interview published hours before the start of his two-day trip.
"That said, determined action needs to be taken to achieve it," he added. From Israel's perspective, this was connected to "concessions on the issue of settlements."
Westerwelle, who will meet with President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann - but not with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is in the US - told the daily that Germany was working with both Israelis and Palestinians for "a constructive approach" to the peace process.
Westerwelle, who will make a rare visit by a western politician to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, said he will also discuss with his hosts "improving the humanitarian and economic situation" in the salient.
"I am going to advocate in Jerusalem on behalf of approving exports from Gaza," he said.
Westerwelle has said he does not intend to meet any Hamas officials when he visits the Strip on Monday. Hamas is subject to a western diplomatic boycott, over its repeated refusal to renounce violence, honour previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and accept Israel's right to exist.