German pol calls for Israel in EU

BERLIN (JTA) — A German politician called for Israel to be a full member of the European Union.

Parliament member Gert Weisskirchen, foreign policy speaker for the Social Democratic Party, said Monday that he "would be very pleased if Israel were a full member," but only if Israel would support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Weisskirchen’s remarks to the Hamburg Abendblatt newspaper come one week after another German politician, EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering of the rival Christian Democratic Party, said he supports a "privileged partnership" for Israel with the European Union — but not EU membership. That goes for Turkey and Ukraine, too, he said.

Like Weisskirchen, Pottering would make EU partnership with Israel contingent on Israel’s acceptance of a Palestinian state.

The argument reflects tensions between Germany’s two power-sharing parties, which have opposing positions on EU extension. However, it is not Israel but Turkey that is the key point of contention. Accession talks with Turkey have been on hold since 2006.

Weisskirchen, a staunch pro-Israel liberal, wants Turkey to be in the EU. Pottering, just as committed to Israel, opposes Turkey’s accession.

In Austria, too, Turkey and Israel were linked recently in the EU membership debate, but not by friends of Israel. Rather it was the anti-foreigner, right-wing Austrian Freedom Party that took up the issue, arguing in a campaign ad against EU membership for both countries.

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