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Germany joins calls for Israel to end settlement construction

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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has demanded that Israel put an end to all settlement building in the Palestinian territories, in a newspaper interview published Saturday.

It is \"not acceptable\" to found new settlements or expand existing ones in East Jerusalem or the West Bank, Steinmeier said in a joint interview with the German Press Agency dpa and German daily Sueddeutsche.
Both the German and U.S. governments agreed on this point, the foreign minister added. Steinmeier called for new efforts in the Middle East peace process, and said the European Union and U.S. President Barack Obama\'s administration needed to \"speak with one voice.\"

Steinmeier\'s appeal echoes recent calls from Washington for Israel to put an end to all settlement building in the areas it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused the demand for a complete freeze in settlement activity, and has not agreed to a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Within German diplomatic circles, the settlement activities are seen as undermining an increasingly precarious two-state solution.

EU foreign ministers are meeting June 15 to agree on a new joint position on Mideast developments.

Steinmeier said he was in favor of involving the entire region, including countries such as Syria and Lebanon, in resolution efforts.

\"Regionally embedding talks between Palestinians and Israelis is crucial to the chances of success,\" the foreign minister said.

\"Failure cannot be an option,\" Steinmeier added.

By: DPA,HAARTEZ .COM

[photo:daylife.com]

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