By Oliver Towfigh Nia
BERLIN (AA) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called on Israelis and Palestinians not to abandon their goal of a two-state solution amid Tel Aviv's accelerated settlement expansion plans in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"We do not want to give up the idea of a two-state solution, but rather keep it. We believe Israel's security is best guaranteed when there is also a state for the Palestinians in which they can live," Merkel said during a joint press statement with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Berlin.
Merkel's remarks came only one day after Germany lashed out at Israel's continued settlement construction in the Palestinian-run territories and occupied East Jerusalem, reiterating it was an obstacle to a two-state solution.
"Very concerned by Israeli publication of tenders for construction of more than 1,300 housing units in settlements in the West Bank. Settlements are contrary to international law and a substantial obstacle to peace and a two-state solution. They should stop," tweeted Christian Buck, the director for Near and Middle East and North Africa at the German Foreign Ministry.
Buck was referring to Israeli plans to build 1,355 homes in the occupied West Bank, which was seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.
A usually staunch ally of Israel, Germany has repeatedly gone out of its way to criticize the Israeli settlement building, saying it would only further complicate the so-called Middle East peace process.
Berlin has time and again vowed to continue its diplomatic efforts, in cooperation with the US and other European Union partners, to find a mutually acceptable, negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that addresses the legitimate concerns of both sides.
Around 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 130 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want these territories along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
International law regards both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.