Israel’s security is a top priority for “every German government,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on her farewell visit to Israel. The outgoing Merkel visited the country seven times before during her 16 years as head of government.
After the crimes of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, it has proved possible to establish good relations with Israel, Merkel said alongside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, with whom she attends a cabinet meeting. Bennett praised Merkel for maintaining ties between the two countries, which he says have never been stronger. He described Merkel, 67, as “Europe’s moral compass”, referring to her commitment to Israel’s security. “Sometimes a leader makes a profound difference.”
During the visit, the mutual relationship, the security situation in the region, the Iranian nuclear program and the Palestinian issue will be discussed. While Merkel advocates a two-state solution, activists say he has exerted too little pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territory. The chancellor’s schedule does not include a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
She will meet Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog and Foreign Minister Jair Lapid. Merkel lays a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon. She will also receive an honorary doctorate from the technology institute in Haifa in that city. On Monday, Merkel will be in Jerusalem at a conference with representatives from the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) before returning to Germany.
Israel received a new government in mid-June, ending the Netanyahu era after 12 years. Merkel’s visit to the new rulers was scheduled for August but was postponed due to the crisis following the departure of Western troops from Afghanistan.