Photo: AP
Merkel: No money for Hamas
Photo: AP

Merkel: Hamas must recognize Israel

German leader lands in Israel, says Europe would not fund Hamas-controlled PA unless group renounces violence, recognizes Israel; visit marks first time Acting PM Olmert hosts leader of major western country

The European Union would not be able to fund the Palestinian Authority under Hamas if it does not renounce violence and recognize Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday in Jerusalem, after meeting with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


"Such a Palestinian Authority cannot be directly supported by money from the EU," said Merkel, referring to a Hamas-controlled PA that does not renounce violence. The European Union is the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority and provides aid vital for its survival.


Merkel landed in Israel Sunday afternoon for a one-day visit, marking the first time Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hosts a major western leader since taking over for ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


Merkel, who landed in Ben Gurion Airport around 6 p.m., said she's excited to be visiting Israel.


"This visit is very important for me," she said upon her arrival.


The acting PM welcomed Merkel to Israel and said he was particularly pleased she chose to visit Israel before other countries. He noted the two countries are marking 40 years for the establishment of diplomatic ties and stressed the deep commitment to continue nurturing the relationship.


"Israel and Germany are important trade partners," Olmert said, adding the two countries traded to the tune of USD 4.3 billion last year."


Unusual gesture


The visit was planned before Sharon's major stroke and hospitalization, but the German leader decided to go ahead with the plans nonetheless.


The visit is a significant one for Merkel, with the chancellor choosing to come to Israel two months after taking office – an unusual gesture considering previous German leaders never visited the Jewish state immediately after being elected. Notably, Merkel's Israel visit comes before visiting many other European nations.


Merkel to tour Holocaust museum


Upon her arrival, Merkel is expected to voice her support for Israel's demand that Hamas disarm and renounce its charter, which calls for Israel's destruction. Another issue expected to be addressed during the visit is the nuclear crisis vis-a-vis Iran, where Germany is playing a key role.


In addition to Olmert, Merkel is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz.


The German leader will also travel to Ramallah and meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. However, Merkel will refrain from meeting with Hamas members.


Merkel's visit will also include a two-hour tour at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Later, the chancellor will plant a tree in memory of Holocaust victims.


פרסום ראשון: 01.29.06, 21:28
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