TEL AVIV – A senior official in Jerusalem denied a report on Saturday that claimed Germany is growing increasingly frustrated with Israel’s settlement policies and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she understands why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking the support of the UN Security Council.
“Ties between Israel and Germany are close and good, and they will continue to be,” the official told Haaretz on Saturday, adding that the statements in the report published by Der Spiegel were “most likely an internal German attempt to bash Merkel over her close relationship with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
The report in Der Spiegel said that Merkel was “furious” at a leak of confidential consultations between Jerusalem and Berlin in the German capital in February, which were published in the Israel Hayom daily.
The report claimed that details of Merkel’s remarks were “twisted” to give the impression that she supported Netanyahu’s position that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is not viable at present. Instead, the chancellor had actually asserted that Israeli settlement construction “makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution.”
In fact, according to a report by the Times of Israel, Merkel was angered by Netanyahu’s assertion that she had changed her position on the two-state solution.
The Der Spiegel report also claimed that Netanyahu was responsible for fraying Israeli-German relations, to the extent that the Merkel government has “lost hope that the peace process can be revived so long as Netanyahu remains in office.”
In January, Germany signed an EU resolution criticizing Israeli settlements despite Netanyahu’s plea to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to soften the language.
According to the report, Berlin’s shift was also apparent when Merkel met with Abbas in Berlin two weeks ago. The chancellor, the report said, “was demonstrative in her support.”
“I understand why President Abbas continually seeks out the Security Council,” Merkel said, according to the report. The magazine added that, “Even accusations from Netanyahu that EU labeling rules for products made in the settlements are akin to an anti-Jewish boycott are no longer taken seriously.”