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Merkel Arrives In Israel For Netanyahu Talks On Iran, Settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, June 4, 2018
Jerusalem, Oct 3, 2018 (AFP) -

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel late Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite differences between them on a range of issues.

Merkel and members of her cabinet will on Thursday participate in the latest in a series of bilateral talks between Germany and Israel.

The visit comes after Netanyahu's harsh criticism of European countries over Iran, Israel's main enemy.

Netanyahu has been urging European countries to follow US President Donald Trump's lead and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany, like other signatories to the hard-fought deal, has sought to keep it alive, saying it is preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now.

Merkel's government has also been among EU nations that have repeatedly criticized Israel over its settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

In return, Netanyahu has accused EU countries of "absolutely crazy" demands of Israel.

Germany has recently joined calls against Israel's planned destruction of a Bedouin village in the West Bank.

Ahead of Merkel's arrival, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev warned the chancellor against bringing up the fate of Khan al-Ahmar village.

"I advise her to deal with internal problems of her own country," Regev said.

"We respect Mrs Merkel and we are pleased with the cooperation between our two countries, but with all due respect, regarding our internal problems, I expect that foreign leaders who come here don't interfere."

Berlin says Thursday's discussions will focus on economic ties, innovation and technology.

Merkel has previously highlighted the responsibility toward Israel that Germany bears as the perpetrator of the Holocaust.

Fears of a resurgence in anti-Semitism in Germany are expected to be discussed as part of Thursday afternoon's joint government meeting.

No public events were planned for after Merkel's Wednesday night arrival.