German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the list of international voices calling for a halt to Israeli settlement construction. She told a session of the Bundestag (the lower house of German parliament) that building in the West Bank, including “natural growth,” is a hindrance to the two-state solution. As The Jerusalem Post reports, what’s noteworthy about Merkel’s position is not only her center-right alignment but her habitual reluctance to demand too much of the Jewish state.
Earlier this week, the New York Times disclosed that French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that his foreign minister, the far-right ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, was toxic and should be fired, comparing Lieberman to France’s best-known xenophobe Jean-Marie Le Pen. Given the iciness between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu, there’s a good chance the U.S. president has prevailed upon his European allies to do some gentle nudging and needling of their own. Merkel’s statements are exactly in line with the main criterion put forth by both the European Union and American State Department. And if anyone on the continent is in a position to deflect an anti-Arab boor, surely it’s the part-Jewish head of state who wants the burka banned and the rioting “scum” of the Parisian banlieues brought to heel.