Does Maggie Thatcher ride again?
Palestinian Authority officials have accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "offending the Palestinians' feelings" during her visit earlier this week to Ramallah, where she met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The accusations, the first of their kind against a European leader, were made by top PA officials only hours after Merkel and her entourage left Ramallah on Monday.
"She did everything to provoke the Palestinians during her visit," said one official. "She showed no understanding for the plight of our people. On the other hand, she appeared to be very biased toward Israel."
The official claimed that while Merkel refused to meet with families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, she focused during her talks with Abbas on the need to release kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who has been held in the Gaza Strip since last June. In addition, he noted, Merkel met with the families of missing IDF soldiers during her visit to Jerusalem.
"We were hoping to show her the wall that Israel built around Bethlehem, but she refused to go there," he said. "President Abbas was hoping to draw parallels between Israel's wall and the Berlin Wall. He wanted to remind Merkel of the days when she lived in East Berlin."
Merkel, according to the official, also turned down a request to meet with church leaders and representatives of Palestinian civil societies. "Almost all the European leaders meet with Christian leaders and representatives of civil societies," he pointed out. "But Merkel refused to do so. She did not offer any explanation and that's why we are very disappointed with her and the German government. This behavior is completely unacceptable."
The Palestinians are also angry with Merkel for visiting the Hebrew University, where she received an honorary doctorate on Sunday, while refusing to tour the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
PA officials were hoping to escort Merkel on a tour of the Arab neighborhoods to show her how Israel was "changing the Arab and Muslim character" of the city.
"This woman is trying to be more Israeli than the Israelis," the official said. "During her talks with President Abbas, she totally ignored major issues related to the peace process and chose to focus on the case of Gilad Schalit.
Good for her.