Merkel’s Israel visit begins


Angela Merkel began a three-day visit to Israel.

The German chancellor flew to Tel Aviv on Sunday vowing to bolster bilateral ties and reaffirm Berlin’s support for Israel in its struggle against Palestinian terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program.

“I am grateful we can open a new chapter in relations between our two states,” she said after being welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Merkel flew down to Sde Boker, where Israeli President Shimon Peres showed her the grave of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. On Monday she is scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and the following day address the Knesset – the first such appearance in Israel’s parliament by a German head of government.

Olmert praised Merkel for her “inspirational courage in the battle against terrorism and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Germany has backed U.N. Security Council sanctions against Tehran but voiced misgivings about the prospect of U.S. or Israeli military strikes as a last resort for halting the Iranian nuclear program.


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