Merkel tells Abbas Germany to keep up aid to Palestinians
Berlin will keep up its aid to the Palestinian Territories when Germany forms a new cross-party government, Chancellor Angela Merkel told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, dpa reported.
Abbas, who spent an hour at the chancellor's office, is on a swing through Europe to seek backing as the tempo of Palestinian meetings with the Israelis picks up under prodding from the United States.
Merkel, who has invited the opposition Social Democrats to join her in a government that may take until December to form, said, "Continuity in German foreign policy has been very, very preponderant.
"We have always advocated a two-state solution. We have always advocated aiding and supporting the Palestinian Territories, advancing the peace process, advancing economic development and I am pretty sure we will conduct our foreign policy with this continuity."
Construction of Jewish settlements in West Bank areas has cast a cloud over the direct peace negotiations which resumed in July after three years of no progress.
"I stress the Palestinian side is very earnestly trying to conduct these talks despite the challenge of settlements. We should accept this historic opportunity. We appeal to the Israeli side to seize this chance," Abbas told reporters with Merkel at his side.
"That the Palestinians have halted their attempts to join further United Nations bodies is an up-front concession for these talks, and in the same measure we have appealed to Israel to restrain itself in extending settlements," said Merkel.
"I have repeatedly said that to Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, since we ought not to imperil this consultation process."
Merkel also discussed the conflict in Syria with Abbas. She urged that a fresh conference in Geneva among the Syrian parties be held "as soon as possible."