Merkel talks Palestinian state, Iran in two-day visit of Israel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits Yad Vashem
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Israel formed as a nation three years after World War II and Germany has paid reparations to survivors of the Holocaust. In the years after the war the two countries have formed a bond and a joint dedication to abolishing anti-Semitism. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Jerusalem Thursday and met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and discussed tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Merkel told Rivlin establishing a Palestinian state is "the right answer" to the decades-old conflict, although Israel has long opposed the idea.


Before the meeting Thursday, Merkel was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa for "inspirational leadership" and "fostering tolerance" on the international stage.

Weeks ago, Israel ordered residents to leave the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar -- where the Israeli government plans to demolish all structures despite calls led by Merkel to block the plan.

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Merkel said the issue was not a condition of her two-day visit to Israel. She arrived Wednesday and had dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier Thursday, Merkel visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum and toured the Hall of Names, participated in a memorial ceremony and visited the Children's Memorial and signed the Yad Vashem guestbook.

"Eighty years ago ... the Jews in Germany suffered hatred and violence the likes of which they've never encountered before," Merkel wrote in the book. "What came later is a crime unlike any, a breaking point for civilization, the Holocaust. Since then, Germany has a responsibility to remember this crime and fight anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hatred in general."

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Merkel and Rivlin also discussed U.S. sanctions against Iran, a longtime enemy of Israel.

"The Iranian monster should be starved, not fed," Rivlin said. "This is the only condition to maintaining stability in the region.

"We ask Germany to stand beside us in the demand for supervision on Iran's nuclear program, and to not allow it to evade its commitments."

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Merkel said their nations have a common goal but different ideas about how to achieve them.

"We want to prevent Iran from using nuclear weapons," she said. "The question is in what way. Should we continue with the agreement or build on the sanctions?

"We're working towards the same goal-to stop the Iranian nuclear program."

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