German official: Do not underestimate the IDF

Philipp Missfelder, deputy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, tells 'Post' military option against Iran can't be ruled out.

March 8, 2012 04:02
3 minute read.
PHILIPP MISSFELDER stands next to Merkel

Misfelder 370 . (photo credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

BERLIN – Israel’s vital security interests are integral to the interests of the Federal Republic, according to Philipp Missfelder, the Germany deputy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party in the Bundestag.

In a wide-ranging telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Friday, the Christian Democratic Union deputy covered the pressing security issues unfolding in the Middle East.

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“The Chancellor is 100 percent right that Israel’s security is in Germany’s national interest,” he stressed. “Israel’s military capacity should not be underestimated.”

“It was a mistake in the fall to rule out a military option,” Missfelder continued. “Obama was correct in how he handled it. The military option must remain on the table because, if not, the negotiating strategy will not be taken seriously by Iran.”

Last November, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, spoke differently: “We reject a discussion about military options” in connection with the Iranian nuclear threat, he said.

Additionally, in February, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere delivered a grim assessment of Israel’s capability to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities. He said an IDF strike on Iran would be “highly unlikely” to succeed, and would cause “obvious political damage.”

The 32-year-old historian is viewed by close followers of German-Israeli relations as a politician who seeks to breathe new life into strengthening the security bond between Israel and the Federal Republic.

Israeli diplomats in Berlin have praised Missfelder’s unwavering support for the security of the Jewish state over the years.

“Germany’s population wants to be the like the Swiss and stay out of conflicts, such as the one in Afghanistan,” Missfelder told the Post. “But that is no longer possible.

There is a joint responsibility towards Israel, to say to the German population that we have a new role in Europe and the world.”

When asked about what the UN has characterized as civilian massacres by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, Missfelder said, “Syria shows the region is in upheaval...There is no unity in the UN...[They are] no longer in the position to engage in protected responsibility in connection with Syria. Many have criticized [former president George W.] Bush for intervention, but the US should take more responsibility.”

He noted that a military option for Syria would be very difficult after the Libya decision, and one option would be to arm the opposition.

Missfelder added, “We will not profit from instability, friends of Israel and the West – and Israel belongs to West, in my view. My main concern is Iran will win great influence.”

In regard to the so-called “Arab Spring,” he said he was very skeptical in the beginning: “It was great that young people became political. But foreign policy is very serious.

There is romanticism in the world of art, but in foreign policy that is ridiculous.”

Egypt and Yemen, he said, are the largest question.

“Egypt is a challenge,” he continued. “It has not become easier. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation worked successfully in Egypt, but now is massively prevented. I cannot say that I was disappointed [when] I saw this development. It is not clear who will take over power on the long term.”

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is a think tank affiliated with Missfelder’s party that promotes pro-democracy work.

Missfelder observed that the EU government in Brussels tends to be pro-Palestinian.

“Brussels is orientated on the Palestinians. I know this phenomenon from the Left in Germany,” he said.

Critics argue that the Left movement in Germany and many Left Party deputies have focused the bulk of their foreign policy work on criticizing Israel and advocating for the Palestinians – including, at times, the Hamas terror group in the Gaza strip.

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