German Chancellor Merkel Visits Israel, Meets with Netanyahu, Visits Yad Vashem

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.


German Chancellor Merkel’s party labels BDS antisemitic

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.

 Stephan Weil in Lower Saxony has been embroiled in state-wide antisemitism scandals since July. Critics say Weil and his government fail to understand new forms of Jew-hatred. Weil refused to meet with the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee to find ways to blunt the activities of modern antisemitism in his state.
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The article was published on The Jerusalem Post on the 7th of December 2016