German Chancellor Angela Merkel and much of her cabinet began a two-day visit to Israel on Monday that includes a joint session of the two countries’ cabinets.
The German and Israeli leaders met for frank discussions
In light of the current instability in the Middle East, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to Israel to take constructive steps toward reinvigorating the Middle East peace process.
Merkel made her comments during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem prior to a bilateral cabinet session with many of both countries' ministers.
Afterwards, both sides said the talks were held in a very “businesslike manner” with Netanyahu outlining how he sees the next steps in the peace process. Merkel urged Israel to halt its settlement policies in the West Bank, saying these were a serious problem for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Israel very concerned about Egypt
The two leaders discussed the protests in Egypt too
Both leaders agreed that the current situation in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world was “very difficult” and a concern for Israel. Netanyahu said Israel was watching the situation with "vigilance" and "worry" and that he feared Egypt could wind up with a radical Islamic regime, like Iran.
Cabinet ministers from both sides also signed a variety of bilateral agreements to boost cooperation in the fields of research, environment, climate protection, energy, development aid and education.
Merkel's talks with Netanyahu are part of annual German-Israeli government consultations which were being held for the third year in a row. Israel is the only country outside Europe with which Germany holds joint cabinet sessions, although it does so regularly with France.
Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Nicole Goebel