Merkel urges Israel to restrain settlement construction
German chancellor meets Abbas, assures him that aid to PA would stay the same under new government

German Chancellor Merkel Angela Merkel met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday and called on Israel to show restraint with its settlement policy so as not to jeopardize the ongoing Middle East talks. In a joint press conference with Abbas in Berlin Merkel said a grand-coalition government in Berlin would continue to provide aid to the Palestinian Territories.


"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," Merkel said.


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"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 Netanyahu, since we ought not to imperil this consultation process," she added.


Abbas, who spent an hour at the chancellor's office, stressed the Palestinian side is earnestly trying to conduct the talks. "We should accept this historic opportunity. We appeal to the Israeli side to seize this chance," Abbas told reporters.


Merkel and Abbas also discussed the conflict in Syria. Merkel said a fresh conference in Geneva to find a political solution among the Syrian parties must be held "as soon as possible."



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