Merkel presses Netanyahu to resume peace talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand a quick return to peace talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, her spokesman said Friday.
In a strongly worded statement, the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had told Netanyahu that the success of negotiations on a two-state solution rested on both sides refraining from "provocations".
She said she had "absolutely no understanding" for the approval of Israeli plans to expand a settlement in Gilo, in east Jerusalem, Seibert said.
"This approval had raised doubt whether the Israeli government has an interest in the start of serious negotiations," he said, adding that Merkel told Netanyahu it was "now a question of dispelling this doubt."
The Quartet, composed of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, announced a bid to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians on September 23.
It came shortly after the Palestinians submitted their bid to join the United Nations as a member state.
Merkel said the Quartet's plan must be the basis for negotiations.
The proposal calls for talks to begin within a month, for both sides to produce concrete ideas on security and borders within three months and for a final deal to be reached before the end of 2012.
Merkel had phoned Abbas Monday to press him to accept the Quartet proposal to open negotiations with Israel.
© 2011 AFP