Israeli officials deny increased tensions with Germany following news report

BERLIN (JTA) – Israeli government officials have denied Spiegel Online magazine’s recent report of increased tensions with Germany.

Ties between German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union Party and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are strong, according to Israel Hayom. A source suggested the negative reports were due to attempts by some German politicians to undermine those ties.

In their news analysis for Spiegel Online – titled “Foreign policy shift: Skepticism of German-Israeli friendship growing in Berlin” – published April 29, Ralf Neukirch and Christoph Schult said prominent politicians in Germany’s mainstream parties believe Netanyahu’s settlement policies are blocking the road to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

They named several German politicians, including the chancellor, as being increasingly sympathetic to Palestinian views of the conflict, and cited Bundestag legislator Rolf Mützenich, deputy chair of foreign affairs, defense and human rights for the Social Democratic Party, or SPD, as saying that Netanyahu appears to be “instrumentalizing our friendship.”

Before the weekend was out, Israeli government officials denied that there was a shift in relations with Germany. An unnamed official told Israel Hayom that ties remain strong and positive.

Criticism of Israel’s settlement policies from the highest political levels is not new in Germany.

Most recently, the mayor of a city in the former East German state of Thuringia had written to Merkel demanding an end to her “one-sided approach to the State of Israel,” according to a report Sunday by the German press agency DPA.

The mayor of Jena, Albrecht Schröter, a member of the Social Democratic Party, urged Merkel to fight against Israel’s settlement policy, which he defined as “land theft” and an attack on Palestinian civil rights. His remarks reportedly were triggered by the recent construction of a security wall in Jena’s Palestinian partner city, Beit Jala.

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