German Jewish Leader: No Need for Aliyah Agency Like Nativ Here

PM kicks off Berlin trip at Jewish Museum; Merkel reiterates German support for 'safe, stable Israel.'

BERLIN - German Jewish leaders told visiting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday they were not interested in Israel's offers to expand the Nativ agency's operations to Germany.

Nativ, a semi-covert agency founded within the Prime Minister's Office in the 1950s, deals mainly with helping Jews from the former Soviet Union immigrate to Israel.

During his tenure as minister of strategic affairs, MK Avigdor Lieberman proposed opening a Nativ agency office in the Israel Embassy in Berlin, and to start encouraging immigration to Israel among some 200,000 Russian-speaking Jews who have recently emigrated to Germany.

Stefan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of German Jews, said following talks with the prime minister on Monday that there was no need for such a program to draw Jews to make aliyah, as recommended by Lieberman during his tenure as minister of strategic affairs.

Kramer told reporters that German Jews were satisfied with the help being given to them by the Jewish Agency and other sources, and saw no reason to employ other such agencies in Germany.

However, Kramer added, if for political reasons such a program was instated, the German Jewish community was prepared to cooperate.

Olmert told Kramer he would initiate further discussion on the matter, in light of Lieberman's resignation last month from the government.

Nativ operated in the former Soviet Union (FSU) to help bring Jews to Israel and as a liaison to Jewish dissidents. Since the Soviet Union's collapse, it has dealt with processing immigration to Israel and running Israeli FSU culture centers.

PM: Security forces may use every means to stop rockets

Olmert said on Monday that he sympathized with the pain experienced by Sderot residents who are victim to constant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, adding that security forces were permitted to take every possible measure to end the current situation there.

"I totally feel the pain of Sderot residents like I felt the pain of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv residents - every city has gone through a period of dealing with strife," Olmert said during a visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Olmert, who arrived in Berlin on Sunday evening, was devoting Monday largely to private engagements, before holding talks Tuesday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Horst Koehler.

"Sderot residents justifiably want what every citizen of every state in the world gets and want to live without threat," the prime minister said.

"This won't happen in one day, but it will happen. The security forces have permission to operate in every way possible to change this situation. I believe the situation will change.

Olmert on Monday visited Berlin's Jewish Museum to inspect artefacts and documents bearing witness to 2,000 years of the Jewish community in Central Europe.

Berlin's Jewish Museum, designed by U.S. architect Daniel Liebeskind, is one of the newer landmarks in the German capital and has drawn more than 4 million visitors since being opened in 2001.

Olmert is to discuss Iran's nuclear program with Merkel. The visit is set to end Tuesday night.

The two leaders are also to discuss a planned meeting of cabinet ministers from both countries to take place in Israel in March to mark 60 years since the Jewish state was founded.

Olmert's stay in a hotel near the zoo in west Berlin has forced the rerouting of some buses on security grounds. Police have mounted a tight security operation and have announced they will block all traffic when the prime minister's motorcade passes through the city.

In her weekly message to Germany on Saturday, Merkel repeated that a close relationship with Israel was a key pillar of German foreign policy.

The aim was a "safe, stable Israel," she said.

"Our mutual aim is that peace and stability be established in the region. That is why we support a two-state solution: A Jewish state of Israel as well as a Palestinian state," Merkel said.