Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Bennett, Merkel affirm strong bilateral ties

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held his first conversation since taking office with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Bennett, the nationalist Yamina party head who is leading a cross-partisan coalition government, succeeded rightwing Likud leader and longtime former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from the Prime Minister’s Media Advisor, Chancellor Merkel called to congratulate Bennett on the formation of a government and on assuming the premiership.

The Premier thanked her and referred to the “new spirit in Israel,” as well as the “opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties,” said the statement.

Prime Minister Bennett also expressed appreciation for Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security, and for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense during the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls against Islamist rocket fire from Gaza.

The new Israeli leader also invited Chancellor Merkel to visit the Jewish State in the near future.

Merkel, Germany’s first female leader, has served as Chancellor since 2005, and regarded as the de facto leader of the European Union. She has announced plans to retire from politics after the 2021 German federal election of the 20th Bundestag expected to be held on 26 September 2021.

Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany officially established diplomatic relations in 1965.

Germany is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe and its second most important after the United States. The two nations engage in significant military cooperation, as well as extensive scientific and cultural relations.