German FM warns unilateral action could hurt Mideast talks

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, right, speaks as his Palestine counterpart Riyad al-Maliki, left, listens during a news conference following their meeting, in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister warned Tuesday against unilateral steps that could hurt Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians following the change in administration in the United States.

President Donald Trump has strongly backed Israel during his four-year term, declaring Jerusalem the Jewish state’s capital, tolerating Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories and pushing Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel.

“Creating facts unilaterally won’t help us in this already difficult situation,” Germany’s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, told reporters after meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in Berlin. “But no doors should be slammed shut either, in view of developments in the United States.”

Maas didn’t spell out what unilateral measures he was concerned about. But on Monday, his office criticized Israel’s public call for tenders to build settlements in East Jerusalem as a “step that sends the wrong signal at the wrong time.”

Maas noted that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden agrees with Germany’s position that a negotiated two-state solution should be the basis for peace talks between the parties.

The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said he sees in Biden’s election “a window of opportunity, and we want to take advantage of that window of opportunity in order really just to open a new page.”

Al-Maliki added that “we suffered tremendously, as Palestine, from Trump’s policies.”

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