Merkel urges Israelis and Palestinians to pursue peace

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Merkel urges Israelis and Palestinians to pursue peace

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Angela Merkel has urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders not to miss an opportunity for progress in peacemaking.

On a tour of the Middle East, the German Chancellor held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But she did not meet any ministers from the new Palestinian unity government, which includes Hamas Islamists.

Excluding engagement with Hamas, she explained:
“Only those who renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist as well as the results of negotiations can be our partner in future efforts.”

Earlier, the German leader, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

She is trying to build on the momentum of a revived Arab peace plan. Israel has generally welcomed the initiative. But it has called key components problematic and has been noncommital about how to proceed.

In an emotional ceremony, the German leader laid a wreath at Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem.

There, she wrote in the guest book: “Humanity grows out of responsibility for the past.”

Also visiting Israel is Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives. Her plans to move on to Syria and possibly meet its president have angered the White House.