Germany's foreign minister warned Tuesday against unilateral steps that could hurt Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians following the change in administration in the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump has strongly backed Israel during his four-year term, declaring Jerusalem the Jewish state's capital, tolerating Israeli settlements in the West Bank and pushing Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel.
"Creating facts unilaterally won't help us in this already difficult situation, "Germany's top diplomat, Heiko Maas, told reporters after meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in Berlin. "But no doors should be slammed shut either, in view of developments in the United States."
Maas didn't spell out what unilateral measures he was concerned about. But on Monday, his office criticized Israel's public call for tenders to build 1,257 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem's Giv'at Hamatos neighborhood as a "step that sends the wrong signal at the wrong time."
Maas noted that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden agrees with Germany's position that a negotiated two-state solution should be the basis for peace talks between the parties.
The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said he sees in Biden's election "a window of opportunity, and we want to take advantage of that window of opportunity in order really just to open a new page."
Al-Maliki added that "we suffered tremendously, as Palestine, from Trump's policies."
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday voiced "deep concern" over Israeli authorities' decision to invite contractor bids in East Jerusalem and said it contravened international resolutions.
"The ministry affirms the Kingdom's condemnation and rejection of the move, which contravenes international resolutions," it said in a statement.
Israel moved ahead on Sunday with a settler housing plan in the area, a step critics said aimed to shore up the project before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan earlier this year signed agreements toward normalizing relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.
Riyadh has quietly acquiesced to the UAE and Bahrain deals "though it has stopped short of endorsing them" and has signaled it is not ready to take action itself.