WASHINGTON – Meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have concluded with a decision to agree to disagree on Germany’s vote to abstain on the recent referendum on Palestine as a non-voting member of the United Nations General Assembly, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Israel had expected Germany to vote “no.”
While Israel was upset with the collapse of what Tel Aviv thought would be continued German backing, Merkel made it clear the decision was in response to Israel’s announcement that it would construct some 3,000 settlements in East Jerusalem, and ultimately the issue would not affect the foundation of German-Israeli relations.
However, the German stand may be indicative of the general view of other members of the European Union who backed the Palestinian bid.
There also is a whisper campaign about imposing sanctions against Israel over the decision to build the settlements, which has had the effect of splitting the area which the Palestinians had in mind to claim as their own nation-state. The United Kingdom and France recently recalled their ambassadors to Israel for “consultations.”
Tel Aviv hasn’t hidden its concern that the PA vote was in retaliation for its confirmation of the settlement plans.
The Palestinian Authority achieved a non-voting status in the U.N.G.A., which gives the Palestinians access to other U.N. international organizations and even the possibility of filing suit in the International Court of Justice over what Palestinians see as the illegal confiscation of their properties over time to create the state of Israel.
Israel had fully expected Germany to vote “no” on the vote, and its vote to abstain immediately heightened tensions between the two countries.
The U.N. vote, with 138 of the 193 U.N. member states backing the Palestinian Authority’s bid, was perceived as a defeat for Israel. Nine countries voted no, while some 40 countries voted to abstain, including Germany.
With Germany abstaining, it meant that only Canada and the United States – which also voted “no” – were the two major Western nations to side with Israel. Netanyahu contends that Merkel just doesn’t understand how complicated his government’s situation is.
Merkel previously had backed Israel’s position in October 2011 when Germany voted against the Palestinian bid to become a full member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or U.N.E.S.C.O.
Sources say that Merkel was troubled by what was described as the Israeli government’s “tactical maneuvering” of putting pressure on Germany to get the other E.U. members who said they would support the Palestinian position to reverse course and vote “no.”
These sources add that Israel had thought the Germans would vote “no” while the Germans looked upon Israel’s pressure tactics of making Germany’s vote a bargaining chip. In addition, sources say, Merkel was upset with Netanyahu because he didn’t appear to offer any concessions to the Palestinians particularly on settlement construction. If he had, sources say, she would have been more apt to campaign on the Israeli position. That didn’t happen.
As it turned out, the governments of a majority of the E.U. states decided to back the Palestinians. None abstained, except Germany.
Sources are quick to add that despite this background, the relationship between Germany and Israel remains strong. They say that Germany has since acceded to Israel’s request not to sell submarines for now to Egypt while continuing to strongly back Israel in its dispute with Iran over its nuclear program.
Sources say the German vote to abstain in the recent Palestinian U.N. bid probably will have no impact on Netanyahu in terms of the settlement construction issue.
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