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Interview with Angela Merkel

Rich tapestry of cooperation with Israel

Chancellor Angela Merkel has pointed to the excellent relations between Germany and Israel. In an interview with the Jewish Voice from Germany she said, "We aim to cooperate as closely as possible across the board, and we can be proud of our cooperation in the fields of culture, science and research, and environmental protection."

The terrible rupture in civilisation represented by the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany against the Jewish people will always be with us, declared the Chancellor. "In the awareness of the resulting special relationship between Germany and Israel, we can shape the future. Our relations are very good."

Angela Merkel underpinned this with the example of the German-Israeli government consultations which were introduced a few years ago. The two governments thus underline, "the major political, environmental and economic importance of relations between our two countries in our age of globalisation".

Close cooperation across the board

Israel remains the only genuine democracy in the Middle East, Angela Merkel continued. "We aim to cooperate as closely as possible across the board, and we can be proud of our cooperation in the fields of culture, science and research, and environmental protection. In the development sector, we are implementing highly successful trilateral projects with third countries, including Ethiopia."

Another focal area mentioned by the Chancellor was youth exchange programmes. "There is a rich tapestry of cooperation, which brings together the people of our two countries, and makes them into colleagues and friends." And that is every bit as important as good cooperation at government level.

Supporting the integration work of Jewish communities

With reference to Jews living in Germany, Angela Merkel said, "We have achieved a great deal here in recent years. We have signed a State Treaty wit the Central Council of Jews in Germany, comparable to the treaties with the established churches, and raised the payments effected by the German government from an initial 3 million euros a year to 10 million euros a year."

Support is also given to the great integration work performed by Jewish communities when they welcome into their midst Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. The new legal regulations governing circumcision also demonstrate how, "we can combine freedom of religion with the need to protect the wellbeing of children, thus protecting both fundamental rights".

Seeking a workable two-state solution

When questioned about settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Chancellor said that she has already expressed her critical opinion on several occasions. Her opinion has not changed. "At the same time it is important to me that both sides, both Israel and Palestine, work towards a lasting two-state solution." She pledged that she would support an Israeli government that made peace talks possible every step of the way.

Anti-Zionism is not legitimate for her, declared Angela Merkel. Zionism as a national movement of the Jewish people is an expression of the fact that, "the Jewish people have the right to self-determination". Once again the Chancellor stressed, "that Israel can be sure of our support for its security. That is why I have also pointed out that defending Israel’s security is part of our raison d’état."

Sep 14, 2013