Germany presses Israel to commit to peace process
During talks with Lieberman, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Israel must pursue a two-state solution in the interest of regional security and stability, a ministry spokesman said.
Berlin -- Germany urged Avigdor Lieberman, who wrapped up his first visit to Europe as Israel's foreign minister Friday, to resume the peace process with the Palestinians during "frank" talks in Berlin, the foreign ministry said.
During talks with Lieberman late Thursday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Israel must pursue a two-state solution in the interest of regional security and stability, a ministry spokesman said.
Steinmeier "made clear that the government expects the new Israeli government to respect accords signed by previous governments in the context of efforts to advance the peace process," the spokesman told a regular government news conference.
He added that Germany sought Israeli commitment to the goal of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Lieberman also briefed Steinmeier on the new government's ongoing review of foreign policy and said it planned to lay out its principles before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington in two weeks.
The Israeli minister met with Steinmeier, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and lawmakers during his two-day stay in Berlin but, unusually, no press conferences or photo opportunities were held.
The leader of Yisrael Beitenu (Israel is Our Home) party has sparked sharp criticism by saying the new cabinet was not bound by the previous government's decision in 2007 to revive negotiations with the Palestinians.
Gert Weisskirchen, foreign policy spokesman of Steinmeier's Social Democrats, junior partners in Germany's left-right government, said he was at least relieved that Lieberman had not threatened Iran with military action over its disputed nuclear programme while in Berlin.
"If I wanted to see it (Lieberman's visit) positively, I'd say he is playing the role of the bad guy," allowing Netanyahu to appear relatively moderate when he meets US President Barack Obama this month, Weisskirchen said.
Weisskirchen's counterpart with the opposition liberal Free Democrats, Werner Hoyer, said he had been deeply disappointed by Lieberman's refusal to back the peace process.
"Lieberman sees us Europeans as a bunch of wimps," he told the daily Berliner Zeitung. "It is pretty depressing because you could not see any vision for a secure future for Israel."
Lieberman, who has also been attacked by critics over his views on Israel's Arab citizens, was finishing off a five-day tour of Europe that also took in Rome, Paris and Prague.