Expressing her support for a two-state solution, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Tel Aviv to not undermine the right of Palestinians “to have a chance to live” during her final visit to Israel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on October 10, 2021.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on October 10, 2021. (AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel implored Israel not to "lose sight” of importance of Palestine state, as she wrapped up a two-day farewell visit.

Merkel's support for a two-state solution has been one of the key disagreements with Israel's leadership during her 16 years in office, which were characterised by unwavering support for Israel.

Speaking at an Israeli think tank, Merkel welcomed the historic diplomatic agreements reached last year between Israel and four Arab countries, led by the United Arab Emirates. 

But she said the deals, known as the Abraham Accords, did not erase the need for Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“We must not lose sight of the right of the Palestinians to have a chance to live,” she said. 

“Therefore one should under no circumstances, even as it becomes more and more difficult because of the settlements, lose sight of the issue of a two-state solution,” Merkel told a panel at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

READ MORE: Germany's Merkel kicks off last official visit to Israel

'Bennett’s approach will not be enough'

Backers of the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the Trump Administration, have praised them as breaking the long-standing belief that Israel could not forge ties with the Arab world before reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, a hard-liner who opposes a Palestinian state on Israeli-occupied lands, has ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians. 

Instead, he has advocated what he says is a more pragmatic approach of improving living conditions for the Palestinians as a way of lowering tensions. 

His government, a patchwork of dovish, nationalist and Arab parties that took office in June, so far has not announced any major changes in policy.

Merkel welcomed Bennett’s intentions but said such an approach would not be enough.

“I think that such a long-running issue (the conflict with the Palestinians) will not disappear from the agenda, even if there are improved relations with neighbouring Arab states,” she said.

Throughout Merkel's visit, she was welcomed as a “true friend” of Israel. Her agenda included meetings with Israeli leaders and a stop at Israel's national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

She repeatedly professed Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security and said she was confident that her country's next government — to be determined in lengthy coalition talks following an inconclusive election last month — would take a similar stance.

Israel was formed in the wake of the Holocaust in 1948 and the two countries only established diplomatic ties in 1965. But over the decades, those ties have warmed and Germany is one of Israel's closest and most important international allies and trade partners.

READ MORE: Palestinians must suffer so that Germany can feel better about its past

Source: AP