German Chancellor Angela Merkel has landed in Israel, for a diplomatic trip that will focus on government ties, as well as discussions on Iran and Palestine.
“We have come here with almost the whole of our new government and we wanted to show you in this way that this is indeed a very strong friendship,” Merkel said upon landing yesterday.
Merkel arrived with a large group of ministers for meetings between the German cabinet and the Israeli. The chancellor was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel and Germany have “a unique bond forged of tragedy and hope, and a great friendship.”
In a press conference, Netanyahu also laid out subjects he expected to discuss in the cooperative cabinet meetings.
“I would like to discuss ways to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability. I believe that this is the greatest challenge to the security of the world,” Netanyahu said.
“The people of Israel want peace, they want a real peace, they want a peace that ends the conflict that finally gets the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state and one in which we have the necessary means of security to defend ourselves against any possible contingency in this turbulent Middle East,” he added.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres used the visit to confer the Presidential Medal of Distinction on Merkel today.
“We are here today to express the deep appreciation of my people and my nation towards you, to your country and for your brave position by Israel’s side,” Peres said at a ceremony Tuesday. “Both when we are under threat and when we are on the path to peace, within the European Union, the United Nations and the global arena.”
“Your commitment to Israel’s security and to the cause of peace is set in stone. You oversaw the expansion of our economic ties, the deepening of scientific collaboration and never hesitated to provide us with the tools necessary for our defense.”