Netanyahu compares Iranian bomb to Auschwitz; Merkel ignores PM and calls for settlement freeze
BERLIN - "We must not allow those who want to commit mass murder, those who want to destroy the Jews, to emerge unscathed. That is our lesson from the Holocaust," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a ceremony held by the Axel Springer publishing house in the German capital yesterday.
During the ceremony, Netanyahu was given the original blueprints of the Auschwitz death camp.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a joint press conference with Netanyahu that the Iranian nuclear program should not be compared to the Holocaust.
Netanyahu also said that two important lessons were learned from the Holocaust: Jews must be able to defend themselves, and that barbarians must be prevented from acquiring arms.
During his address, Netanyahu attacked Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying that during World War II, the allies knew about what was going on at Auschwitz, yet did nothing to stop the death machine.
The prime minister noted that the blueprints of the camp, which will be taken to the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, are an answer to those denying the Holocaust.
"These are documents of historic significance and will be preserved by our children," he said.
The blueprints of the death camp were acquired by the publishing house and were published last year in the German tabloid Bild.
Netanyahu said that in 1976 his father, Benzion Netanyahu, visited the site where the ceremony was held. He said that as he looked over into East Germany, Springer told Benzion: "Freedom ends here and tyranny begins."
Netanyahu quoted his father saying, "Tyranny and terrorism go hand in hand just like peace and freedom go together."
Merkel said during a press conference with Netanyahu that "the Germans did unspeakable things to the Jewish people. Therefore Germany must protect Israel and preserve its security. However, there should be no comparison between the Iranian issue and the Holocaust."
The German leader also commented on construction in the settlements and said that stopping it is a basic condition for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority.
Merkel reiterated the need for a freeze on settlement construction on a number of occasions during the joint press conference with Netanyahu.
"I believe that progress regarding the settlements and imposing a ban on further construction in the settlements is an important step toward restarting the peace process," Merkel said.
She noted that she is well aware of the domestic political difficulties in Israel, "however ending settlement construction is of supreme importance. Time is running out," she warned.
Netanyahu said at the press conference that he is willing to resume the negotiations with the Palestinians and noted that he believes that talks will be renewed in a month or two.
The prime minister also said that at this point there are no conclusions reached or agreements with the U.S. administration on the issue of the settlements.
The issue of a cessation of settlement construction has been a sticking point in Netanyahu's relations with the Obama administration.