German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“There was a series of internal discussions in Israel about this. It’s not like this was the most uncontroversial proposed legislation ever, so I asked several questions,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
She was in Israel accepting an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.
“And yet, we recognize the Jewish state,” she continued. “And if there is supposed to be peace, an enduring peace, between Israelis and Palestinians, then, of course, it cannot be that all states say Israel should be a Jewish state, with democratic rights for minorities that live here, but the Palestinians don’t say it.”
She added: “This cannot be the basis for peace. Rather, solutions need to be found, and we are in favor of working on these solutions with full force, as has been discussed here.”
Merkel also stressed the importance of preventing Iran from creating a nuclear bomb, and that the regime’s presence in Syria must move “toward zero,” despite it being “a difficult project.”
“There is absolutely no question that the fact that Iranian forces are standing near the Golan Heights is a threat to Israel,” she said.
Netanyahu echoed some of Merkel’s comments, such as on the Iranian threat. “[We will] continue to block Iran’s efforts to use Syria and Lebanon as forward bases for attacking Israel,” he said. “And we will also continue to engage with new partners in our region.”
Merkel’s visit was reportedly in jeopardy with the anticipated Israeli evacuation of the illegal neighborhood of Khan al-Ahmar. However, Merkel denied the speculation.