Lawmakers to protest Merkel address


A Knesset member plans to walk out when German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the assembly.

Aryeh Eldad, who lost many relatives in the Holocaust, said he could not bear to hear German spoken in the Knesset.

Merkel is to address the Israeli parliament Tuesday in her native German – the first time a German chancellor will speak at the the Knesset.

A fellow member of the Israeli-right National Union Party, Uri Ariel, also said he objected to the decision to allow Merkel to speak. But Israel’s new ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev, told The Associated Press on March 12 that he did not think there would be a significant protest.

Merkel’s visit is part of Germany’s marking of Israel’s 60th anniversary. It is to include the first-ever joint Cabinet meeting between the two countries, which Merkel has said she wants to become an annual tradition.

Ilan Ostfeld, spokesman for Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, said Merkel deserved to speak in the Knesset as “a very important European and world leader, and a great friend of Israel.”

He noted that she had “asked to speak in German.”

A special committee of the Knesset voted to allow Merkel to address the legislature, a privilege reserved for heads of state, presidents and monarchs but not heads of government. In 2002 and 2005, respectively, German Presidents Johannes Rau and Horst Kohler addressed the Knesset in German, to the dismay of some Israeli legislators.

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