Merkel to Press Netanyahu on Peace

YERUSHALAYIM (AP/Reuters) -

Germany’s foreign minister says his country vigorously supports U.S.-mediated peace talks and encourages Israel to take the “difficult but necessary decisions” to make them succeed.

A day before German chancellor Angela Merkel and nearly her entire Cabinet arrive in Israel for a two-day visit, Frank-Walter Steinmeier published an op-ed on Sunday in which he vowed that Israel would not “stand alone.”

In her weekly video message, Merkel made clear over the weekend that she will be pressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the peace talks.

In an unrelated item, Germany is to offer Israeli citizens consular assistance in states such as Indonesia or Malaysia where Israel has no official diplomatic representation, under a new deal to be signed by Angela Merkel.

Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said the offer was “a special message” from Germany and underscored the importance of relations between the two countries.