Bennett, Rivlin Welcome Germany's Steinmeier as Ally Against Antisemitism

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, shakes hands with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, shakes hands with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Jerusalem on Thursday.Credit: Prime Minister's Office

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday. The two leaders discussed the threat of a nuclear Iran, and Bennett noted Israel's goal to prevent Iran from gaining military nuclear capabilities, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

Outgoing President Reuven Rivlin warmly welcomed his German counterpart, praising him as an ally in combatting antisemitism.

Steinmeier congratulated Bennett on the formation of the new government, with Bennett responding, "We have formed a goverment with different voices, and we are determined to advance the State of Israel."

The two first met in private, and then the session was continued with a wider work meeting. Steinmeier also invited Bennett to visit Germany.

In an interview with Haaretz ahead of his trip to Israel, Steinmeier said, "When it comes to Iran, Germany and Israel share a common strategic goal: Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons. ... We may not always agree on the best way to achieve this. However, we believe that renewing the JCPOA [the international nuclear agreement with Iran] is the most effective way to demonstrably and verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb."

"Intensive and highly complex negotiations to this end involving the new U.S. administration are currently under way. I hope they are successful, for Germany’s and Israel’s sake," he added.

Rivlin said that Germany has been Israel's “strong partner in the uncompromising fight against antisemitism” and has stood with Israel against “the forces of terror who seek to wipe us off the map.”

During a solemn visit to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Steinmeier said the “unspeakable suffering” caused in Germany's name by the Nazis “fills us with pain and shame.”

Germany's postwar leaders have repeatedly apologized for the Nazi atrocities and it has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations to Jewish victims. Israel and Germany have developed close ties in recent years.

“We will keep the memory of this alive for the sake of those who were murdered and for the sake of future generations," he said.

Germany launched a new initiativewith the United States last week to stem an alarming rise in antisemitism and Holocaust denial around the world.

The U.S.-Germany Holocaust Dialogue seeks to reverse the trend, which gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in political populism across Europe and the U.S. The dialogue creates a way to develop educational and messaging tools to teach youth and others about the crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators.

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