Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday over new Jewish settlements but both were at pains to stress their unshakable ties.

Mr. Netanyahu joined Ms. Merkel for a meeting between most of their Cabinet Ministers after a private dinner late on Wednesday. Ms. Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference that Germany, like other Western partners, hoped Israel would drop plans to build more than 3,000 settler homes on a strategic strip of occupied Palestinian land. “On the question of settlements, we are agreed that we are not agreed,” she said with a wry smile, looking at Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu insisted his settlements policy did not mark a radical new departure, and were merely picking up where other Israeli governments had left off. He said the homes would remain even in a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Setting a bitter tone for the Merkel meeting, Mr. Netanyahu had told Thursday’s German daily Die Welt that he was “disappointed” that Berlin had abstained from voting at the U.N. despite reported pleas by Israel to reject the Palestinian resolution.

But at the press conference, he repeatedly thanked Germany and Ms. Merkel personally for unwavering support of Israel’s security.

Germany, long considered Israel’s closest ally in Europe with ties rooted in the country’s bid for atonement over the Nazi Holocaust, stopped short of such a move.

Jordan King vist

Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Thursday in a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The King’s arrival gave a high-profile boost of support to the Palestinians’ U.N. bid.

— AFP