Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Israel Sun  Please credit  Amos Ben Gershom /GPO ONLY Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany.  פגישת ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם קנצלרית גרמניה אנגלה מרקל ב ברלין, גרמניה. צילום: עמוס בן גרשום לע"מ

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany.
(Picture credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Israel Sun )

Relations with Iran can only fully normalise when it recognises the existence of Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

Speaking at the side of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ms Merkel told reporters after a meeting of the two countries’ cabinets that she has “made very clear … there cannot be a normal, friendly relationship with Iran so long as the existence of Israel is not recognised”.

Ahead of the sixth such meeting – normally held annually but postponed last year after violence in Israel kept Mr Netanyahu at home – Germany’s foreign minister said the situation in the Palestinian territories is not sustainable in the long-term.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the near-daily street attacks by Palestinians that have killed 27 Israelis as “despicable terror”.

He stressed Germany’s view that only serious negotiations aimed at a fair, two-state solution can offer hope of peace for Israel and the Palestinians.

Germany has been critical of Mr Netanyahu’s continued pursuit of new settlements but Ms Merkel sidestepped a question on that, reiterating only that Berlin sought a two-state solution.

Mr Netanyahu was complimentary of Ms Merkel, thanking her for her leadership and emphasising the values that Germany and Israel shared.

Some six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany and the fact Israel and Germany are close allies some 70 years later “gives hope to all of mankind,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“It’s an example of how, despite the unparalleled horrors of the past, our two peoples have forged a unique and constructive friendship,” he said. “I believe that this offers hope for the entire world.”