image Photos: Miri Shimonovich (MFA), Koby Gideon (GPO)

Israeli leaders hold talks with German FM

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock today concluded visit to Israel for meetings on regional issues.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

The first stop for Berlin’s top diplomat in her first visit to Israel in her official capacity was the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, where she received a tour following by a wreath laying ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance in commemoration of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War Two.

“This painful place demands of us that we do not stay silent, do not stop trying,” said Minister Baerbock, adding that, “Yad Vashem admonishes us to listen to the voices of those who experienced these horrors, and to hear them and to pass their words on. It is our necessary duty as the younger generation to keep this memory alive, especially as eyewitnesses of the time become fewer and fewer. It is our responsibility to raise our voices against anti-Semitism, against hate and incitement, against exclusion and violence so that these crimes against humanity are never be repeated so that the children of this earth all have a future.”

She then travelled to Tel Aviv to meet with her Israeli counterpart and Alternate Premier Yair Lapid, whose late father and grandmother were Holocaust survivors.

“The friendship between Israel and Germany is based on the fact that we don’t deny the past and do not pretend it doesn’t exist. We deal with it. The existence of a strong and proud Israel is the guarantee of never again,” said Lapid at a later joint press conference.

Jerusalem’s top diplomat went on to say that he presented Israel’s position vis-à-vis ongoing international efforts to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear talks with Iran, in which Germany is an active participant.

Stressing that “a nuclear Iran endangers not only Israel but the entire world,” Lapid underscored that “the E3 countries (Germany, France and the United Kingdom) cannot also ignore the threat posed by Iran beyond its nuclear program. Iran is Hezbollah in the north; Iran is Hamas in the south; Iran is the exporter of terror from Yemen to Bueno Aires.”

Berlin’s top diplomat reiterated her country’s warning to Iran that ‘time is running out’ to resume compliance with the 2015 deal.

Iran also topped the agenda during subsequent talks with Israeli Prime Minister  Naftali Bennett at the Premier’s office at the Kirya IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv.

In a written statement obtained by TV7, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) noted that, “The two discussed at length the security and regional challenges, especially the Iranian nuclear issue. The Prime Minister presented the Israeli position, according to which signing a nuclear agreement with Iran would be a mistake that would endanger the entire region.”

The Israeli leader also “emphasized that a target date must be set for the conclusion of the negotiations since their extension, even as the enrichment of uranium continues, only serves Iranian interests,” said the statement.

Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff and German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer also participated in the meeting.

Upon concluding her meetings in Israel, Minister Baerbock travelled to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and her counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.

She said at a later press conference that “the Palestinian territories” remain high on Germany’s political agenda, and expressed Berlin’s hope that for a negoitated “Two State solution” as not just “the best” but “only” way to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict so that both peoples “can live together in peace and security.”

Minister al-Maliki asserted that Ramallah “is committed to the international law and the international legislation” toward reaching peace with Israel “through negotiations,” while vehemently denying any “use of violence” to achieve its objectives.

German Foreign Minister Baerbock then continued her regional trip by travelling to Egypt.

In related developments, Palestinian President Abbas vowed to avenge the deaths of 3 members of his Fatah group’s Al-Aqsa Brigades during clashes with the IDF earlier this week.

“We have no choice but to respond twice as hard to the exploitative Zionist occupier, for we have been attacked and did not commit the attack,” he pledged from a mourning tent set up for the dead men.

Jerusalem identified the 3 as perpetrators of repeated drive-by shooting attacks at the IDF and Israeli civilians.