BERLIN/JERUSALEM—German Chancellor Angela Merkel and six members of her government are to arrive Wednesday evening for a two-day visit during which she will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and take part in a government-to-government meeting.
She will also receive an honorary doctorate from Haifa University.
“Germany and Israel are connected with a unique relationship. Out of the heritage of our history, out of the break of civilization that was the Holocaust, we Germans have a special responsibility for the relationship with Israel,” Merkel said Friday in a video for her weekly podcast.
“We can be very thankful that today we’re close partners and friends,” she stressed.
The government-to-government meeting, which has been taking place for the last ten years, is held by countries that want to show their relationship is particularly close.
In addition to Germany, Israel holds such talks regularly with countries such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Greece and Italy.
Merkel and Netanyahu last met in June in Berlin and agreed that the next round of German-Israeli government meeting would focus on the economy, innovation and technology. The German leader will tour an exhibit on innovation at the Israel Museum with Netanyahu and attend a roundtable with businesspeople.
But Merkel and Netanyahu are also set to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iran nuclear deal in the wake of Europe’s efforts to salvage the 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and trade with Tehran.
Press reports said that the Palestinian leadership has appealed to the German Chancellor to put pressure on Israel to halt demolition plans for the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, ahead of her visit to Israel.
Israel says the village was illegally built, without the required permits and offered to resettle residents a few miles away. Israel’s Supreme Court recently rejected a final appeal against the plans. The European Union has urged Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, citing the ‘’serious impact on the two-state solution.’’
On Iran, daily Israel Hayom quoted diplomatic sources who claim there is a gap between Merkel’s public statements and her actions on Iran. “Merkel is not Mogherini. Unlike the EU foreign affairs chief, who has ludicrously done everything she can to save the agreement, Merkel will not put herself on the line for it. She isn’t pushing for Germans to invest in Iran and she hasn’t expressed herself the same way that the EU foreign affairs chief has. Germany’s eyes are open to everything concerning the danger that Iran poses. There may be a disagreement about how to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons, but there’s consensus that this must be prevented and that Iran’s missile program and regional aggression must be stopped.”