July 21, 2024
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Relations With Germany Remain Strong, Israeli Officials Say

German newspaper Der Spiegel sparked a firestorm this weekend, when it published an article under the title “Foreign policy shift: Skepticism of German-Israeli friendship growing in Berlin.”

Israeli officials in Jerusalem denied the claims made in the report, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is quoted as saying, “I understand why [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas continually seeks out the Security Council.”

The article claims that there is growing anger in Germany regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and behavior toward the Palestinians.

The report further quotes Rolf Mutzenich, deputy floor leader for the Social Democrats in parliament, as saying, “The perception has been growing in the German government that Netanyahu is instrumentalizing our friendship.”

An Israeli official in Jerusalem responded to the report, saying, “The relationship between Israel and Germany is strong and good, and remains that way. It seems that these comments are an internal German effort to take a swipe at Merkel’s close relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

The Der Spiegel article quotes Merkel’s statements during a February meeting with Netanyahu, in which she said that the timing was not right for a real possibility to advance substantive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Der Spiegel specifies that the comments were published by Israel Hayom. Merkel’s words, simultaneously translated from German to Hebrew for all journalists present at the time as well as for Netanyahu, were published by all Israeli media outlets.

Following their meeting, Netanyahu told journalists that he had said similar things to Merkel a year earlier, but it was ill-received at the time. “This is a realistic approach to the situation in our region,” he said of Merkel’s assessment. “I hear the same things from top world leaders. I heard this from [U.S. President Barack] Obama and now Merkel.”

Netanyahu reiterated that given the current situation in the Middle East, holding peace talks was not realistic, saying, “We also heard this from Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog. Therefore, what is needed is to stabilize the situation on the ground, alongside a stable economy.”

By Shlomo Cesana/Israel Hayom

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