Merkel pledges commitment to Israel


Angela Merkel reiterated her commitment to a two-state solution days before the German cabinet’s historic visit to Israel.

Speaking Tuesday at a B’nai B’rith Europe ceremony in her honor, the German chancellor said her greatest regret is that she has “not managed to see an end” to constant threats against Israel’s existence.

“This year of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel is a great joy, but the worry is also great because of constant threats to peace,” Merkel said.

Merkel said she would “not let go” of her efforts to push for an agreement with the Palestinians, “even if we have doubts, because there is no alternative to our efforts for a two-state solution.” This will “certainly be a theme for the first joint cabinet consultations,” scheduled to begin Sunday in Jerusalem.

Several members of Merkel’s cabinet, including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will meet with their Israeli counterparts. Merkel has said she wants this to be an annual meeting, with the next one in Germany.

Steinmeier told JTA that an announcement about the launching of a German-Israel Foundation to fund a youth exchange is coming soon. The project will be supported with about $3 billion, he said.

Germany also reportedly plans to establish a special liaison on Israel relations in its foreign ministry.

Speakers at the B’nai B’rith’s ceremony, where Merkel received the group’s highest annual award, lauded the chancellor for her commitment to Israel and encouraging the growth of Jewish life in Germany.

Merkel was to meet this week with a visiting delegation from the American Jewish Committee, which this week is marking the 10th anniversary of its office in Berlin. The 70-member delegation was also to meet with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaueble, who will deliver a keynote address Wednesday at the group’s anniversary celebration.

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