One should not think too deeply on Angela Merkel’s words in press conference with Bibi Netanyahu in Berlin today. According to i24 News, the German Chancellor said:
“Now is not the time for a significant step forward [in the two-state solution].”
Angela Merkel has been known in the past as a major backer of the two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The fact that she seems to be pushing the pause button should catch more than a few glances. However, one should not take her pronouncement too far. In the intra-Europe sparring over the refugee crisis, Angela Merkel has been painted (mostly due to her own policies) as responsible for the catastrophic situation that Europe now finds itself.
With the Eastern European countries taking a far tougher approach than herself, she has been struggling to stave of not only a revolt in the EU, but one in her own country. Keep in mind, many Eastern European countries have sided with Israel over the labeling crisis and by doing so they have revealed how fractured the continent is. Merkel achieves a lot with her statement. By backing off of Israel, she can show her interlocutors that she isn’t as clueless about the sweeping hordes of Islamic migrants engulfing her continent. After all Israel has been taking the brunt of radical Islamic violence for years. Letting it drown in the region’s current typhoon of geopolitical chaos would prove how clueless European leaders really are. So Merkel gains the mantel of “principled leader” without forfeiting too much of her open borders policy.
Keeping Israel in Europe’s Orbit
As Israel continues to build on its economic growth with trade deals and energy agreements with a variety of new partners, Europe understands that Israel is in fact poised to surpass it as a global leader and influencer. China and India don’t care about the to state solution, backing it only with lip service. Russia does only what’s best for it and a strong Israel could very well be part of Putin’s plans for the region. Europe is being cut out of everything and losing influence over Israel would not bode well for it.
Backing Israel on the two state solution is ultimately an attempt to lure Israel away from shifting alliances, especially ones that stand diametrically opposed to the EU’s policy in the Middle East.