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Germany

Press Review: Merkel's Friendly But Unfaltering Ways

German editorials on Tuesday were full of praise for Chancellor Angela Merkel's performance during her trip to the Middle East, saying she managed to set the guidelines for a possible cooperation with Hamas.

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Merkel met leaders on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during her visit

Editorialists at the Berli n er Zeitu n g wrote that Merkel skillfully managed her latest trip. "She reaffirmed Germany's historical-political responsibility in connection with Israel and listed three demands for the Palestinians that need to be met to improve the situation: Acknowledging Israel's right to exist, an end to violence and a continuation of the peace process. Judging by her appearance following the meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, she insisted on this in a friendly but unfaltering way."

Munich's Abe n zeitu n g felt that the chancellor struck the right note and found the write words both in Jerusalem and Ramallah. "Respect, Madame Chancellor!" the daily wrote, adding that Merkel mastered her daring visit "with bravura. She had not problems following in the footsteps last left by (former Foreign Minister) Joschka Fischer as an honest broker in the region. As the first high-ranking guest following the Islamists' shocking election victory, Merkel came as Europe's ambassador -- and thankfully did not hide behind empty phrases, but talked turkey instead: Without a recognition of Israel and a renouncement of violence, there won't be any financial help from the EU for the Palestinians. Now Hamas has to decide."

The Leipziger Volkszeitu n g also thought that Merkel looked competent. "The chancellor didn't add fuel to the fire as the atmosphere following the election victory of radical Islamist Hamas is already explosive. Her well-chosen, modest tactic centered around not presenting Israelis nor Palestinians with outside suggestions for solutions. Instead, the chancellor clarified the German position in a discreet yet unmistakable way.

As the first European visitor after the elections, Merkel set the standard for dealing with Hamas, commented Die Welt in Berlin. "The chancellor calls on Hamas to step up to the plate and renounce its goal to destroy Israel," the paper wrote. "Merkel manages to do this in a competent way. Unlike her predecessor, who tended to avoid Israel, the head of government is willing to play an active role in the region despite her lack of foreign policy experience."

And the Fra n kfurter Ru n dschau concluded that Merkel set the guidelines for dealing with Hamas. "This way Berlin's head of government showed the election winners the way to the political stage," it wrote, adding that Hamas will strengthen Palestinian and Israeli hardliners if it fails to accept Merkel's conditions for cooperation.

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