Angela Merkel was a strong supporter of Israel during her sixteen years as Germany’s Chancellor, despite her difficult relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu. Will Germany’s new, post-Merkel government, continue her policy regarding Israel, or take a different approach? This question is discussed in the latest episode of the Haaretz Weekly podcast, published on Tuesday.
Professor Gisela Dachs of Hebrew University, who reported from Israel for leading German newspapers for over two decades, predicted a policy of “continuity” from the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, leader of the Social Democrats. “Continuity will be the main point,” Dachs said on the podcast. “There could be more criticism of Israel from certain politicians in the coalition, but not from those at the top.”
According to Dachs, Merkel “managed something incredible with Israel: she entered the hearts of many Israelis, despite saying all the usual things that European leaders always say about settlements and the two-state solution.” And yet, she added, the former Chancellor “did not trust Benjamin Netanyahu, and she even said so.”
The media and the political system in Germany, Dachs said, are currently giving the new Bennett-led Israeli government a chance to formulate its policy, without putting pressure on it at the moment. “If Netanyahu was still in power,” she said, there would have been “more of a fuss” from Germany over recent Israeli announcements of construction in West Bank settlements. Still, Dachs said, Germany would like to know sooner rather than later where Bennett stands on the Palestinian issue, and what steps can be taken by this government toward resolving the conflict.
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Konstantin Nowotny, an editor at German weekly Der Freitag who is currently completing a fellowship with Haaretz via the International Journalist’ Programmes, was the second guest in the studio, discussing his recent report on Germany’s new foreign minister and her views on Israel. Nowotny said that Annalena Baerbock, leader of the Green Party and the first woman to lead the foreign ministry, had raised doubts in the past about arms sales to Israel, but has since regretted that comment and expressed strong commitment to the Germany-Israel relationship.
Listen to the full episode, including an additional interview with Israeli historian Adam Raz about classified documents revealing new details about massacres of Palestinians in 1948, and how the Israeli government dealt with them.