BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 11th-hour decision to move on
Thursday from a likely vote against an Palestinian upgrade to observer
non-member state status at the UN to an abstention largely meshes with her
administration’s zigzag approach toward the Jewish state.
Israel of her country’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state in a
video podcast released Saturday entitled “Germany will always stand on the side
of Israel.” Her administration, however, has had a mixed scorecard since 2005
when it comes to Jerusalem.
On what policy issues has Merkel been
consistent and fulfilled her pledge that Israel’s security is “non-negotiable”
for her government? The chancellor’s statements of support for the IDF’s
Operation Pillar of Defense in November, aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire
into Israel, and her robust affirmation of the country’s right to launch
Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, which also aspired to put an end to Hamas
missiles targeting southern towns, were examples of prima facie pro- Israel
evidence outlined in her famous 2008 Knesset speech.
During that address,
Merkel declared that “every German chancellor before [her] has shouldered
Germany’s special historical responsibility for Israel’s security.” In fact, she
is the only German chancellor to have gone on the rhetorical offensive during an
Israeli war of self-defense and aligned her government with the Jewish state
against radical Islamic terror.
Her predecessors, like the Social
Democrat Willy Brandt, only made empty promises of support to Israel. Take the
Yom Kippur War in 1973 for example. While Brandt said Germany had Israel’s back,
he denied the US the right to use the Bremerhaven harbor to ship sorely needed
military arms to Israel during its existential war with neighboring Arab
Merkel, in contrast, delivered sophisticated Dolphin
submarines to Israel and is slated to continue furnishing such military hardware
to Israel in order to maintain Jerusalem’s critical deterrence capability
against an increasingly jingoistic Iran, to name just one hostile country in the
However, Merkel’s flip-flops center largely around the issue of
settlement construction, the upgrade of the Palestinian Liberation
Organization’s entity at the UN and an anti- Israel Bundestag
Her administration endorsed a Lebanonsponsored UN Security
Council resolution in 2011 that condemned Israeli settlement construction as
Moreover, in 2010, she appeared to make no effort to convince
her Christian Democratic Union party members in parliament, as well as her
coalition partners from the Bavarian Christian Social Union and Free Democrats
parties, to vote against a Bundestag resolution that slammed Israel for
intercepting the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ship, a confrontation that resulted
in the deaths of nine alleged Turkish terrorists.
Jewish NGOs and German
critics denounced the German resolution as unfairly singling out Israel for
exercising its right to enforce a legal naval blockade against the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Despite her government’s vote against an PLO
upgrade at the UNESCO in Paris last year, she chose to abstain on Thursday at
From Israel’s perspective, Merkel’s stances on PLO statehood
measures, which seek to bypass direct negotiations with Israel, along with her
wobbly positions in UN international forums and when handling party deputies in
the Bundestag that bash Israel, have represented a marked lack of consistency.