Berlin to advise Palestinians against state bid: minister
A high-level German diplomatic mission to the Middle East will try to convince Palestinians next week to drop plans to gain UN recognition for an independent state in September, a minister said Friday.
Development Minister Dirk Niebel told Der Spiegel magazine that he and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle would underline Berlin's reservations in talks with Palestinian leaders.
"We must convince the Palestinians that a unilateral declaration of independence is the wrong way to go," Niebel said in an interview to be published at the weekend.
He said he would advise Palestinian leaders to present a resolution calling for a two-state solution with Israel based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and mutually agreed land swaps, as proposed by US President Barack Obama.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said the Palestinians would seek to be accepted as a full UN member in September if peace talks do not resume.
France and other European countries have indicated they would recognise a Palestinian state while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she would not until a broader peace deal with Israel is agreed.
The German government announced Friday that Niebel and Westerwelle would spend Monday and Tuesday in the region to discuss "the logjam in the peace process and the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip".
Westerwelle will meet his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liebermann and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu as well as Abbas and premier Salam Fayyad to discuss "progress in the development of state institutions" in Ramallah.
Niebel will travel to the Gaza Strip to monitor progress on bilateral development projects and meet the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Filippo Grandi.
© 2011 AFP