Palestinians “offended” by Merkel’s Israel visit

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Palestinian officials have accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “offending the Palestinians’ feelings” during her visit on Monday to Ramallah when she met Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

“She did everything to provoke the Palestinians during her visit,” said one official. “She showed no understanding for the plight of our people. On the other hand, she appeared to be very biased toward Israel.”

Officials were upset that Merkel refused to meet with families of Palestinian prisoners and instead wanted to discuss the release of Israel’s three kidnapped soldiers with Abbas. Merkel met with the families of missing Israeli soldiers during her visit to Jerusalem.

At the joint press conference with Abbas, Merkel refused to answer a question about the Palestinian prisoners in Israel. “The official said, “she appeared to be obsessed with the case of Gilad Shalit, but she refused to even acknowledge the fact that we have more than 10,000 prisoners in Israel.”

Merkel, according to the official, refused to meet with Palestinian church leaders and representatives of civil societies. “Almost all the European leaders meet with Christian leaders and representatives of civil societies,” he pointed out. “This behavior is completely unacceptable.”

The Palestinians are also angry at Merkel’s visit to Hebrew University, where she received an honorary doctorate, while refusing to tour Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

In an attempt to avoid a diplomatic crisis between the Palestinians and Germany, a senior official in Abbas’ office said the allegations did not represent the official Palestinian Authority opinion.

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