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Ruprecht Polenz, head of the German Parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a member of Merkel’s party, said Germany had tried to get a common EU position at the U.N. — and "as things stood that could only be a common abstention."
The Palestinians’ timing was "certainly unfortunate," he said, coming in the middle of Israel’s election campaign and as President Barack Obama prepares for his second term. But the U.N. resolution also included recognition of Israel in its 1967 borders and a call for negotiations on all open questions, including Jerusalem’s status, which Netanyahu rejects.
"That is exactly the position that Germany, with the European Union ... has always taken, and one cannot vote against these points one has always advocated," he said.
Avi Primor, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, said he doesn’t think Israeli-German relations are in crisis mode, but rather reflect a "bitter taste" in the mouths of the Germans over Israeli settlement plans.
On a personal level, he added, chemistry between Merkel and Netanyahu is poor. But Merkel is not anxious to create a crisis.
As a sign of the sensitivity surrounding the meetings, a Netanyahu aide said an Israeli academic invited to Berlin for the talks was barred at the last minute because of her critical views of the Israeli military.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified her as Prof. Rivka Feldhay of Tel Aviv University, who signed a petition in 2008 in support of Israeli soldiers who refuse orders.
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