Merkel to Israel: Stop expanding settlements
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Merkel to Israel: Stop expanding settlements

BERLIN (JTA) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Israel to stop expanding settlements in the West Bank to pave the way for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

In an address Thursday to the Bundestag lower house of Parliament, Merkel also said that concessions from both sides were necessary.

Her comments come amid Israeli media reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to freeze settlement growth for three months.

But Israel will not permanently stop construction, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday in an Israeli radio interview, adding that he did not see any compromise offers on the table from the Palestinian side.

Merkel’s remarks echo those of United States President  Obama, and reflect European Union consensus as well.

According to news reports, Merkel said "it is now important to get commitments from all sides, and that includes the issue of settlement building."

In other news, Merkel said the G-8 member nations should send a strong message to Iran during their meetings in Italy next week condemning the country’s human rights abuses and nuclear ambitions. Further sanctions against Iran reportedly will be on the table.