Israel’s German envoy: Stand up to Iran

Israel’s new ambassador to Germany is urging a tough stand against Iran.

Yoram Ben-Zeev also assured Germany’s Jewish community that Israel does not plan to steal its Jews.

Ben-Zeev, 63, was inaugurated in ceremonies Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin. He placed a wreath at a Holocaust memorial at the Grunewald train station, from which tens of thousands of Berlin Jews were deported to Auschwitz during World War II.

A tough stand against Iran is necessary, he told reporters, despite U.S. intelligence reports showing that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Ben-Zeev also said that Israel does not aim to pressure Jews to leave Germay for Israel. Some in the community have expressed the fear that the Israeli agency Nativ, which is installing two representatives in the embassy in Berlin, is about to launch a campaign that would undermine the newfound stability of Germany’s Jewish community. Nativ only aims to transmit an appreciation for Israel, the ambassador said.

The envoy told reporters he was “cautiously optimisitc” about current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Ben-Zeev also asked German President Horst Kohler for more support from Germany and a tougher stance against Iran. Kohler, who attended the ceremony, said Germany would not let Israel down.

Ben-Zeev succeeds Ambassador Shimon Stein, who served six years in the position.

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