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Merkel in Israel: Iran, Antisemitism Top the Agenda as German Chancellor Joins Cabinet Meeting

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem on Sunday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
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Jonathan Lis

Bennett to Merkel: Israel wants to complete submarine deal

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday evening that Israel would still like to complete a deal to purchase submarines from Germany.

At a private dinner with Merkel, Bennett said his government had conducted a new analysis of Israel’s security needs and concluded that Israel needs the submarines. It therefore wants to conclude the deal originally struck with the German government and the ThyssenKrupp company, despite suspicions that ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli representative bribed several Israeli officials.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, today.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Israel wants to distinguish between the ongoing criminal case and the real security need for the submarines and hopes that Merkel will support it. However, Germany has been concerned by the corruption investigation.

The submarine affair, also known as Case 3000 by Israel Police, is based on suspected bribes and other suspicions surrounding the 2-billion-euro deal to buy from a German company three submarines and four missile ships; the latter would protect Israel’s offshore natural gas platforms.

Merkel accompanies Bennett to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

German Chancellor Angela Merkel accompanied Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem where she rekindled an eternal flame in its Hall of Remembrance.

Merkel said "the history of the Shoah (Holocaust) is a singular event for which we continue to bear responsibility in every phase of history, including in the future". The Chancellor also placed a wreath on a slab under which ashes from extermination camps, death camps and other killing fields are buried, and stood in silence, her head bowed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, today.Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO

Speaking outside the chamber, Merkel pointed to a resurgence of Jewish life in Germany, calling it "an expression of trust (that) compels us to stand up with determination against anti-Semitism, hatred and violence every day anew."

Bennett said Merkel has served as a "moral compass" for Europeans at times divided over Middle East conflicts. "We sometimes disagree on questions such as whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians," Merkel told Bennett's cabinet. "But we agree, I think, that there must always be a vision of a lasting democratic Jewish State of Israel."

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Israeli President Herzog awards Merkel with honorary fellowship

Israel's President Isaac Herzog announced an honorary fellowship in Angela Merkel's name for outstanding female scientists at the Weizmann Institute.

"There could be no more fitting tribute to Angela Merkel, a scientist by training and leading advocate of women's advancement in the world of science, than this honorary postdoctoral fellowship in her name for outstanding female scientists," Herzog said in an event at the President’s Residence.

President Isaac Herzog hosts Chancellor Angela Merkel for lunch, announces Weizmann Institute honorary fellowship in her name for outstanding female scientists, today.Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

“Over her sixteen years as Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has been a formidable leader, whose core commitment to statesmanship based on moral values will be her enduring legacy. One expression of her deep principles has been her personal devotion to Israel’s security and Holocaust remembrance.”

Merkel on her part said she wanted to thank President Herzog "for this warm and friendly gift and for the important discussion we had today about the past and the future. For me, it is a pleasure to leave office knowing that relations between our countries are as good as they are. It fills me with optimism to know that our governments will continue with important education for Holocaust remembrance. Thank you to you and the President of the Weizmann Institute for this wonderful gift. It is very important to continue promoting women in science and technology.”

Jonathan Lis

Bennett hails ‘diverse’ government, gets number of women in cabinet wrong

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised on Sunday the diversity of the Israeli government during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"It's the most diverse government in Israel's history," Bennett told Merkel at the meeting. The government consists of "left and right, Jews and Muslims, religious and secular," lawmakers Bennett added.

Israel's prime minster and nine of its cabinet ministers alongside the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem on Sunday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

While Bennett hailed the record number of female ministers in the current government, he left out one of the ministers. While there are currently nine female ministers in his cabinet, Bennett mentioned only eight.

It is the Israeli government with the most female ministers, "eight ministers and I think that this is one of the reasons it functions well," Bennett says

Jonathan Lis

Bennett says experience shows 'Palestinian state would likely mean terror state'

While Israel is not "ignoring the Palestinians, a Palestinian state would highly likely mean a terror state," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during a cabinet meeting honoring the German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her farewell visit to Israel.

"We’re not ignoring the Palestinians. They’re our neighbors, they’re not going anywhere," Bennett said in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, "at the same time, we’ve learned from experience that a Palestinian state would highly likely mean a terror state a seven-minute (drive) from my own home, and from just about any place in Israel."

"I believe that Israel's neighbors should be taken care of," Merkel said in regard to a possible peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

Alongside Bennett's remarks, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of left-wing Meretz party, told Merkel at the cabinet meeting Israel should do more to promote peace with its neighbors, “and primarily our nearest and most important neighbors, the Palestinians."

Horowitz emphasized that the peace process should relay "on the basis of the two-state solution in peace and security, so that we can also maintain our democratic values.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel alongside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on Sunday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Jonathan Lis

Merkel to send 'unmistakable message' to Iran in effort to return to nuke deal

"We should send Iran an unmistakable message" to return to nuclear talks  said the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in press conference during her farewell visit to Israel.

"We have to return to the negotiation table," Merkel said even though "Iran hasn't signaled that it wants to resume talks."

"We are in very decisive weeks regarding the future of the nuclear deal with Iran," Merkel added.

Merkel pledges commitment to Israel, despite differences on two states

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Sunday that her country would preserve its post-Holocaust commitment to Israel despite some disagreements on the Palestinian Issue.

"We sometimes disagree on questions such as whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians," Merkel told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's cabinet,"but we agree, I think, that there must always be a vision of a lasting democratic Jewish State of Israel."

"It is a gift of history, to which Israel contributed much, that Germany can sit here at a table with you today since the history of the Shoah (Holocaust) is a singular event for which we continue to bear responsibility in every phase of history, including in the future," said Merkel who will step down once a new German government will establish and after 16 years in which she was in power.

Jonathan Lis

'You serve as a moral compass to Europe,' Bennett tells Merkel

"You serve as the moral compass of Europe with your uncompromising support of Israel," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday.

"First and foremost, we appreciate your commitment to Israel’s security," Bennett said in the opening of a special cabinet meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

During his speech Bennett cited Merkel saying that "Israel is the only Democratic and law-abiding country in the region." One of the reasons Germany maintains Israel's security is not because of the long-standing commitment between the countries but also because "The State of Israel is a lighthouse in a stormy sea," Bennett emphasized.

Regarding Iran Bennett said that "over the past three years, unfortunately, the Iranians have leaped forward." While they "are buying time the centrifuges keep spinning," Bennett added.

"It is Israel's responsibility – with actions and not only words – to ensure Iran doesn't achieve nuclear weapons,' Bennett said.

Bennett also mentioned Israel efforts to curb the coronavirus delta wave. "Israel is slowly emerging out of the coronavirus delta wave after a widescale booster shot rollout."

"We gained a lot of experience and knowledge – practical knowledge that saves life and we are sharing it with the world in every possible way.

Jonathan Lis

Israel's security will be 'important for every German government,' Merkel says

"The topic of Israel’s security will always be of central importance and a central topic of every German government," said the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday during her seventh and last visit to Israel.

"It is not only matters that affect our past that play a part, but also our look to a common future," Merkel added.

"I would like to thank you very much for this very friendly welcome," Merkel told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ahead of a day of meetings with Israeli senior officials. "I look forward to getting to know the members of this very diverse cabinet of yours."

"I consider it a great pleasure and great honor to be able to visit Israel once again at the end of my term in office, and to get to know the new Israeli prime minister," added the German Chancellor who will leave office after more than 16 years in power.

"We very much appreciate your ongoing friendship and commitment to the people of Israel," Bennett said.

Officials in Jerusalem would want to establish a diplomatic mechanism that will preserve Germany's commitment to Israel's security even after the German chancellor steps down.

Merkel didn't press Bennett to showcase his policy on the Palestinian issue, the Israeli premier however said that the current situation does allow the introduction of a peace process with the Palestinian Authority.

Jonathan Lis

Bennett welcomes 'dear friend of Israel'

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem, opening a day of meetings with senior Israeli officials.

Bennett tweeted after the private meeting: "Welcome to Israel, dear friend of Israel!"

The two leaders are expected to deliver remarks later on in the day, following a special cabinet meeting with Merkel's attendance.

Jonathan Lis

Merkel in Israel for seventh and final visit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel on Sunday for her last visit to the country while in office. The Israeli government will take the unusual step of dedicating its weekly meeting to bidding farewell to Merkel and celebrating the cooperation between the two countries during her term.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has cleared most of his schedule – testimony to the importance with which Israel views the visit – and he is expected to accompany the chancellor on a host of events throughout the day.

alon pinkas

Why the world already misses Merkel

In modern democracies, leaders come and go. Then there is Angela Merkel. Excuse the political incorrectness and my poorly used idiomatic German, but if there ever was a mensch in 21st-century politics, it was her.

>> Read Alon Pinkas' full analysis

It’s not just the longevity in office – Germany’s chancellor for the last 16 years, since 2005 – that sets her apart, but the qualities she exuded, the demeanor she exhibited and the perceptions people (in and out of Germany) have of her.

It’s not necessarily about particular policies: some of what she did or did not do continues to divide the German political ecosystem. It’s not about how she handled various crises that such a long term in office naturally and inexorably presents. In fact, it is not at all about her report card.

It is about something else, which is elusive, endangered and almost extinct in modern political life: the type and quality of leadership.

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