Brown, Merkel Urge Netanyahu to Back Two-state Solution

Merkel stresses Germany's commitment to strong Israel ties; Brown discusses Iran with PM.

The leaders of Germany and Britain have urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support international efforts and agreements aimed at arriving at a two-state solution.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel's spokesman Thomas Steg said she delivered the message during a phone call Friday with Netanyahu, in which she underlined Germany's commitment to strong relations with Israel.

Steg said Merkel also invited Netanyahu to Germany and he accepted. No date has yet been set.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted by the Press Association as saying, "On the peace process, the Prime Minister encouraged Netanyahu to engage constructively towards a two-state solution building on the Arab Peace Initiative, in particular through action on settlements."

The British leader also discussed matters pertaining to Iran with Netanyahu during a phone call late Thursday.

The comments by Brown and Merkel came after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared Wednesday that Israel was not bound by commitments it made at a 2007 summit in Annapolis to pursue creation of a Palestinian state.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also spoke with Netanyahu on Friday, congratulating the premier on his election and wishing him success.

Berlusconi voiced outrage over the murder of an Israeli thirteen-year-old by an axe-wielding Palestinian on Thursday, the Government Press Office said. He and Netanyahu also stressed the need to continue bilateral cooperation.