Germany’s long-term Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel yesterday evening, ahead of several meetings between her and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their respective country’s ministers.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted the German chancellor at their official Jerusalem residence yesterday and have held inter-governmental meetings (G2G) today. This is the seventh such meeting between the German chancellor and Israel’s prime minister – and ministers each of their countries – in the last decade.
Chancellor Merkel had threatened to cancel her long-planned trip if Israel went ahead with its planned evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar – a claim denied by both Israeli and German officials. This government-to-government meeting, supposed to be an annual event to showcase the closeness of ties between the two countries, was postponed from May 2017 because of German displeasure at Israel’s settlement policies and its position on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
The inter-governmental consultations will focus – inter alia – on security, scientific, economic, cultural and cyber cooperation. There will also be a series of discussions and the signing of MOUs the goal of which is to strengthen bilateral relations.
The expected presence of Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s National Security Council at the meeting between the two leaders was a hint that the discussions were likely to focus on Iran and the developing situation in Syria.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that since the February 15, 2016 inter-governmental (G2G) consultations in Jerusalem there has been significant progress in various fields including security, trade, culture and community affairs.
In addition to her meetings with Netanyahu, Chancellor Merkel visited Yad Vashem, the world Holocuast memorial center. She laid a wreath in the hall of remembrance, where an eternal flame burns and where the names of all the Nazi-run labor, concentration and extermination camps are etched. She also visited the hall of names, in which Yad Vashem holds as much information as they can find about Holocaust victims – and she signed the visitors’ book.
President Reuven Rivlin meets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who says: Our countries have very special ties.
“We always appreciate and remember the deep commitment of the German government to Israel and the Jewish people,” Rivlin told his guest.
Maas thanked the President for the warm welcome and added, “Our countries have very special ties and I want to clarify this at the beginning of my term. As Minister of Justice, I visited Israel many times and shared joint initiatives with my colleague Ayelet Shaked.”
The Minister continued, “I was very pleased to accept our embassy’s invitation to take part in Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Germany has a genuine desire to take part in and assist in all the major issues that plague the world, and part of the reason for my visit is the desire to know what is bothering the citizens of Israel.”
The President and the Minister discussed at length the expansion of the Iranian threat in the region and the various possibilities available to the free world to respond to this threat. The President reiterated that the State of Israel would not accept a reality of an Iranian presence on its border and that the regional armament led by Iran places the entire region under real danger.
Maas made it clear that Germany would not accept Iran’s position calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and that Germany would not accept the existence of an Iranian nuclear program. The Minister stressed that the State of Israel’s concerns are taken seriously and responsibly in the face of the existing threats.
Germany has several times in the past taken a harsh stance regarding Iran’s treatment of Israel.
The previous German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said in 2016 that Iran could only have normal, friendly relations with Germany when it accepted the right of Israel to exist.
Following those remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani both cancelled meetings with Gabriel.
Gabriel made similar remarks during a previous visit to Iran, when he said that “questioning [Israel’s] right to existence is something that we Germans cannot accept.”
The article was published on Arutz 7
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, brandished a piece of the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel downed a week ago after it entered Israel’s airspace and warned Iran “not to test Israel’s resolve.”
Israel, Netanyahu said at the conference that was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”
Zarif, who addressed the conference later in the day, dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.”
Netanyahu, who said Zarif “lies with eloquence,” warned the conference participants that Zarif will “brazenly deny Iran’s nefarious involvement in Syria.”
“Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people,” Netanyahu said, pulling out the Iranian prop from behind the podium and holding it high up with one hand.
“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours.”
Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to have ever addressed this prestigious conference, and the overwhelming majority of his 15-minute speech and 15 minutes of Q and A, dealt with Iran.
With former US secretary of state John Kerry, one of the key architects of the Iranian nuclear deal, sitting in the front row, Netanyahu ripped into the accord as he has done many times in the past, saying that the inspection regimen is completely insufficient, and that when the sun sets on the agreement in some 10 years’ time, the Iranians will have an “open highway” to build not only one nuclear device, but an entire nuclear arsenal.
To have nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, “you need a gun, bullets, and gunpowder.”
The gun is the ballistic missiles that the Iranians are developing, unchecked by the nuclear deal and undeterred by UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
“They should be stopped and slammed with the most crippling sanctions to prevent them from continuing the development of these [nuclear] delivery systems, these guns,” he said.
Furthermore, the Iranians are hiding the “casings for the bullets” in military sites, which the nuclear deal has placed out of bounds to inspectors, he said.
And the third element – the gunpowder – is the enriched uranium, “which is the toughest thing to make for a nuclear weapon, because it is the most difficult to manufacture, requires big plants and precision engineering.” When the sun sets on the agreement, he said, Iran will be given “free rein to enrich uranium without limitations.”
Lifting Iran’s limitations on uranium enrichment should not be linked to a calendar, Netanyahu said, but rather to Iran’s behavior, which as a result of the deal has gotten worse and more aggressive in the region, not better.
Netanyahu predicted that the Iranians would “do nothing” if the nuclear deal is not either “fixed or nixed.”
FURTHERMORE, he said, the countries of the world would have to decide whether they prefer dealing with the US or with Iran, which – despite the fact that it has some 80 million people as compared to Israel’s 8.5 million – has an economy about the size of Israel’s.
“I think the time to stop them is now,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Iran, through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, is trying to change the status quo in the region.
If they do change the status quo, he said, the rule he will follow is one established by the early Zionists when dealing with problems: “They said nip things in the bud, stop them before they get big. That’s basically what our policy is.”
Netanyahu also conveyed a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, stressing that Israel’s decision to stay out of the Syrian civil war for the last six years, except to grant humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians in Israeli hospitals, could change.
Assad understands that if he invites Iran to entrench itself militarily inside his country, he is challenging Israel, he said. “If Mr. Assad invites Iran in militarily, that changes our position. So that is up to Iran and to Mr. Assad.”
Zarif, in addition to dismissing Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus,” said the recent shooting down of an Israeli F16 after it bombed an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility.”
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Zarif said, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”
“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes, it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said.
“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility [of Israel] has crumbled.”
He accused the United States of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against Iran and denied that Tehran was seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East.
Zarif also poked at Netanyahu for his legal problems, saying, “Israel’s major problems are its years-long criminal occupation policies, and I’m not even talking about its corruption.”
Kerry, meanwhile, said at the conference that it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the scope of the deal ends.
“If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you are concerned it will light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to prevent to ever catching fire again?” he asked.
Before addressing the conference, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visited a memorial to the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes killed in Munich in 1972.
“There is [a] special meaning to the fact that we are standing at the place where 11 of our athletes were murdered just because they were Jews and Israelis. Millions were slaughtered here just because they were Jews,” he said. “The great difference is that we have a state and this state has acted, and is acting today, against terrorism and those who would destroy us.”
Netanyahu then led the members of his delegation in singing “Hatikva.”
The Article was published on The JPost
The city of Frankfurt passed a historic bill on Friday outlawing municipal funding and rooms for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activities targeting the Jewish state.
Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor and city treasurer for Frankfurt, who initiated and steered the bill to passage, told The Jerusalem Post: “The BDS-movement does not only strongly resemble the ‘Don´t buy from Jews’ argumentation of former times of the National Socialists, but the movement is built on the same toxic ground and it is poisoning the social climate in the same dangerous way.
BDS strongly attacks the fundamental basis of the legitimation of the Jewish State and takes the detour via antizionism to spread antisemitism.” Beck added:”That´s why we decided to ban any municipal funding or the renting of rooms for any activities of groups or individuals, who support the antisemitic BDS movement. We also instructed our city-owned companies and called upon private landlords to act in the same way.”
The anti-BDS bill will now be sent to the city parliament for a vote. Becker said with today’s backing of the city government, the bill “has already gained the necessary support.” The city parliament is slated to vote on the bill in a few weeks.
The city of Frankfurt, which has a population of 730,000 and is Germany’s main financial center, became the first municipality in Germany to ban material support for BDS activities. The Bavarian capital Munich is expected to pass a similar anti-BDS measure after the summer break.
Becker announced in early August that he would seek to stop public Frankurt funds for BDS and support of the “antisemitic BDS movement.” Antisemitism under the flag of BDS has no place in Frankfurt, said Becker.
Becker said “the major aim of the BDS movement is the delegitimization of the State of Israel, for which reason they proclaim boycott and spread defamation. BDS activities are not a contribution to a democratic discussion, but they try to intimidate companies, artists, politicians etc.”
He added that “not everybody who supports BDS is an anti-Semite him- or herself, but those who support BDS help to spread antisemitism, because BDS is an antisemitic movement.”
Becker said “Frankfurt is a city with strong Jewish traditions, Jewish life is part of the identity of our city, part of the history of the development as an economical powerhouse, as a city of culture and education – and we are proud of that. And we have a strong and vivid partnership with Israel, that has grown over the past 37 years with a strong friendship, that we have with our sister-city Tel Aviv.”
“For our city, threats towards Israel are being felt as threats towards the people over here too,” said Becker.
The article was published in The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, attended the funeral of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Saturday.
Kohl died at the age of 87 on June 16.
The burial ceremony was also attended by world leaders including current German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and former US president Bill Clinton.
The prime minister was reportedly asked to speak during the ceremony, but respectively declined due to the Shabbot observance.
Netanyahu thanked Merkel before the funeral for concluding procedures ahead of the signing of a memorandum of understanding for security assistance between both nations after Germany’s National Security Council reportedly approved the sale of three advanced submarines to Israel on Saturday.
According to the report, Israel will receive three more Dolphin submarines in a $1.5 billion deal with German shipmaker ThyssenKrupp.
Macron also told Netanyahu that he expects the premier to attend an event in Paris marking the 75 anniversary of Jewish expulsion from France scheduled in two weeks. Netanyahu along with Macron are both expected to speak at the event.
Following the late German leader’s death, Netanyahu praised Kohl’s “commitment to Israel’s security” during his tenure as chancellor, and expressed appreciation for his “empathy” for the Jewish state.
“His sympathy for Israel and Zionism is reflected in my many meetings with him,” Netanyahu continued, “and his position was always firmly in favor of Israel, which has been steadily present in Europe and in other international forums.”
The article was published on The JPost
Israel’s emergence as a center for automotive technology got a vote of confidence on Monday when Intel Corp. said it would pay $15 billion for Mobileye NV, a Jerusalem-based maker of chips and software for driverless cars. It will be the largest takeover of an Israeli tech firm and follows a series of deals and partnerships inked in recent years by major tech and auto companies.
“The deal proves in a dramatic manner that our vision is coming true. Israel is becoming a global technology center, not only in cyber, but also in the automotive area,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. Israel had already singled out the automotive technology sector as a possible economic boon, allotting it 250 million shekels ($68 million) for the next five years.
At least five major car manufacturers have made investments in Israel. Ford Motor Co.bought computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS AC in August and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG invested in transit app Moovit in 2015. Daimler AG and General Motors Co. have also opened research and development centers in the country.
The Mobileye deal went far beyond the $4.7 billion sale of fiber-optic company Chromatis Networks Inc. to Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2000, which was the country’s biggest tech deal before Mobileye. Founders Ziv Aviram, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman Amnon Shashua, will share just under $1 billion from the sale, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Dec. 31. Shmuel Harlap, the largest shareholder, will make $1 billion, according to Bloomberg data as of April 1, 2016.
Netanyahu’s Director General Eli Groner said the autonomous tech sector could potentially boost economic growth by 50 percent.
Israel is not renowned for its car-making industry, once turning out fiberglass-shelled cars that were briefly popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the country is now benefiting from the automobile industry’s increasing focus on software rather than hardware.
In Israel, the automotive technology sector currently counts about 350 startups, according to industry monitor IVC Research Center, with the potential, according to Gruner, to grow bigger than the cybersecurity industry, which drew 15 percent of global capital raised by the sector in 2016, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that promotes Israel startups.
Argus Cyber Security, based in Tel Aviv, in January announced a partnership with Qualcomm Technologies to protect cars from hackers. Otonomo Technologies Inc., a data platform that tells users when to stop driving due to a malfunction and can call emergency services when there is an accident, is working with nine car manufacturers, including Daimler. Aquarius Engines, which has designed and developed an engine to generate electric power, is working with Peugeot SA and three other automobile companies.
Gal Fridman, chairman and chief marketing officer of Aquarius Engines, said the deal “definitely makes our lives easier.”
“It validates Israel’s ability in technology in the automotive industry, traditionally American and German and not at all Israeli,” Fridman said. “Mobileye has dramatically helped us open the door wider into this industry.”
The autonomous sector is expanding even as Israel’s tech sector suffers from growing pains. Although the country’s tech industry grew faster than gross domestic product nearly every year between 1998 to 2009, in the five years following it surpassed national growth only once, in 2012. The Finance Ministry acknowledged in a report last year that the industry that fueled Israel’s economy for the past two decades was stagnating.
Mobileye has also had its issues. Last year, Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla Inc.stopped using Mobileye’s systems and the two companies argued publicly about the breakup.
After the Mobileye acquisition was announced, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who have been reducing corporate taxes, announced they would consider further cuts.
“We view this deal as an indication that the more attractive Israel is for foreign investors, the more tax revenue we will generate,” Groner said in a phone interview.
Tax breaks are already part of the government’s program to encourage global technology companies to do more research and development in Israel as other countries vie for companies like Intel to put down roots on their soil.
“The deal will increase the attention and funding for the already burgeoning Israeli cohort of next generation autonomous driving technology startups,” said Jon Medved, founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Jerusalem.
The Article was published on Bloomberg.com on the 14th of March 2017.
The anti-BDS motion is a setback for BDS activists.
Germany’s Christians Democratic Union party on Wednesday passed a resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement because the anti-Israel action is antisemitic.
“Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse antisemitism,” the CDU said.
The CDU likened BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the “new clothes of the 21st century” as anti-Zionism, the party said.
“The German CDU declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as antisemitic. The CDU will decisively oppose every hostile action that Israel faces.
The CDU professes its deep friendship toward Israel and continues to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” the resolution read.
Uwe Becker, the chairman of the CDU branch in Frankfurt, which formulated the resolution and submitted it at the CDU conference, said he was pleased with the result.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was nominated at the convention to run as the party’s candidate in next year’s federal election. The CDU’s resolution appears to be the first German party motion to reject BDS and classify the anti-Israel movement as antisemitic.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to Germany criticized BDS activities in the state of Lower Saxony.
Writing in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung daily, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman said: “In Oldenburg a teacher agitates against Israel in an official way; in a magazine of the GEW labor union [the Education and Science Workers Union]. This teacher publicly spreads the proposal to relocate Israel to Baden-Württemberg” in southeastern Germany, wrote Hadas-Handelsman.
The ambassador cited additional outbreaks of contemporary antisemitism in Lower Saxony and asked: “What is wrong in Lower Saxony?” The administration of the Social Democratic Gov.
For the only MEP elected to the European Parliament from Germany’s Family Party, Mr Gericke packs quite a punch. An outspoken critic of the erosion of family values, when he speaks in the European Parliament, people listen. But it is his unashamed support for the State of Israel, his love of the country and its democratic values, and his willingness to step up to the plate in defence of it that sets him apart for us here in EIPA.
As a member of EIPA’s advisory committee and a newly signed up member of a Parliamentary working group looking into accountability and conditionality of EU Aid as a whole, Mr Gericke is often seen speaking up on Israel’s behalf, either late into the night during Parliamentary debates in Strasbourg or first thing in the morning at briefings and events.
An articulate drafter of Parliamentary questions and also questions to the European Commission too, Arne Gericke has a knack of getting straight to the matter, leaving little wriggle room for opponents to try and untangle themselves. For these reasons and for being a great friend of EIPA’s as well as Israel’s, Mr Gericke you are our MEP of the month. Mazal Tov!