German Chancellor Angela Merkel has estimated that Israel will freeze construction in settlements by this fall, the London-based Al-Hayat reported Saturday.
Merkel was asked about the matter during a press conference Friday and answered, "I do not think it is hopeless to reach progress on this issue soon, and especially this fall."
Merkel referred to her meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin last month, saying she had left feeling hopeful. "This issue may require more time and patience," she added.
Merkel was also asked why Israel insisted on being recognized as a Jewish state by its Arab neighbors as a precondition for a settlement in the Middle East, and if the demand would not make the lives of its 1.5 million Arab citizens worse.
"In Germany we also speak of a German nation, but without discriminating against anyone belonging to a different race," she answered.
"The goal is to define the majority without having this lead to the placing of a question mark over the heads of the 1.5 million people of the Arab race. When a future Palestinian state arises, on the basis of mutual understanding, I will also be very happy."
Merkel also joined the choir of responses to the Goldstone report, submitted to the UN by a committee established to investigate alleged Israeli 'war crimes' in Gaza, and said it was "nothing to get excited about".