Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Sunday morning in Jerusalem with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Their discussion is expected to focus not solely on Iran, but also on stepped-up European efforts to resuscitate the moribund Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process.
Germany, a key EU power and one of Israel’s closest friends inside the organization, has not yet made its position known publicly regarding France’s intention to bring a proposal with a firm timetable to the UN Security Council, calling for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines.
That resolution is expected to be brought together with New Zealand, which is a temporary member of the council, while France is a permanent member.
The foreign ministers of both countries are expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authorities in June, as are the foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Poland, and the president of Cyprus.
Netanyahu’s position on the resolution, whose wording is not yet known, is that Israel is against any move that would pre-judge what a negotiated solution should look like.
Israel’s concern is that, while such a resolution would likely give the Palestinians what they want – a state based on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital – it would be unlikely to address Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, and would only vaguely say that Israel’s security concerns would need to be addressed, without spelling them out.
Disagreement over Israel’s security demands has been one of the major obstacles in previous rounds of negotiations, and Netanyahu said on Thursday that any future accord would have to include a long-term Israeli security presence throughout the West Bank.
Former US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk said in a speech recently that the French proposal itself is not that critical, but what is highly significant is whether it would “force the hand of the Obama administration and they decide to move ahead with a resolution [of their own] with the British that would encapsulate the basic principles of a two-state solution.”
Meanwhile, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog met Steinmeier Saturday and thanked him for his country’s support in the wake of recent threats to suspend Israel from FIFA. The opposition leader hosted the German official at his home.
Herzog praised Germany for “standing firm beside the Jewish state” as it battled complaints raised by Palestinian authorities with soccer’s governing body, a press release said. He urged the European country to continue to be a “clear and stable voice” against a trend of unilateral steps against Israel.
“The only way to reach a lasting agreement is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” Herzog said at the meeting, which was also attended by Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni. “Unilateral action badly destroys the chance to get there.”