Last updated: 19 January, 2012

Merkel urges progress from Palestinians and Israel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday urged the Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace talks, saying it was crucial that progress be made.

“It is very, very important that we see progress, that each side sees that good will is there,” Merkel told a joint press conference after talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Settlements have proved a consistent sticking point in talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and caused the breakdown in the direct talks that began in September 2010.

Envoys from both sides have since met twice under the auspices of Jordan and the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, in an attempt to kickstart the talks.

“The window of opportunity is not yet closed. The talks in Jordan are still going on. We want to help them achieve a result,” Merkel said.

She stressed that both sides were talking to each other which “was not the case for many months”.

“We want to now take advantage this situation,” she said.

For his part, Abbas said Germany had developed friendships with both Israel and the Palestinians and thus “may have an important role to play in the framework of dialogue in the region.”

Abbas is on a week-long tour of Europe which has already seen him meet British Prime Minister David Cameron in London and will also include a stop in Russia.