After a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Israel to exercise restraint on building settlements according to an article by AFP .
A report released earlier today said that there has been a 70% spike in settlement activity in 2013 . Even as Israel and Palestine have entered into a protracted round of peace negotiations, settlement activity has been a contentious issue between the two sides.
Settlement activity in territory captured after the 1967 war is considered illegal under international law.
During the press conference, Abbas echoed the call made by the German Chancellor.
"We ask the Israeli government to stop this activity," he told reporters through an interpreter. Mr. Abbas thanked Germany for its economic support for the peace talks and appealed to Israel to “seize this historic chance .”
"We are serious in our efforts to conduct the negotiations," he said.
Merkel emphasized that Germany's foreign policy would remain unaltered despite the likely formation of a left-right grand coalition after the September 22 elections .