Germany urges Israel, Palestinians to ease tensions

Ramallah: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Saturday warned of turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from political into religious due to the growing tension in Jerusalem.

Steinmeier’s warning came in a joint press conference with Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Reyad al-Malki after a meeting held in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Xinhua reported.

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“We consider with deep concerns the operations and assaults that happened recently and caused a number of fatalities,” Steinmeier told reporters, adding that “all bear responsibility to get out of this vortex and not to escalate violence”.

He called for a free entry of Muslim worshippers to Al Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem. “We can make progress if we make steps forward,” he said.

Steinmeier stressed that there was no alternative for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to get to “the principle of the two states and establish the Palestinian state that lives in peace side by side with Israel”.

“The conditions and the ground are suitable for the resumption of the talks, but the most important is to reduce congestion of tension between the two sides,” said Steinmeier.

Reyad al-Malki said that President Abbas briefed Steinmeier during the meeting on the growing escalation and the measures taken by the Israeli government in Jerusalem, especially at al-Aqsa Mosque.

“President Abbas briefed Steinmeier over the Palestinian political plans to schedule a timetable for ending the Israeli occupation and prepare for establishing an independent Palestinian state,” he said.