German ambassador to Israel Dr. Clemens von Goetze (center) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (right) plant a tree at Yad Kennedy..
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas plants a tree by the Yad Kennedy Memorial on his first visit to Israel as foreign minister.
Heiko Maas, who has visited Israel previously as justice minister, noted that it was the first time he had planted a tree.
KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson and KKL-JNF European Desk Coordinator Judith Perl-Strasser welcomed Maas, who was accompanied by German ambassador to Israel Dr. Clemens von Goetze and the president of the Jewish community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, Charlotte Knobloch.
During his brief two-day visit, the minister visited Yad Vashem, met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leaders.
Michelson noted his own German roots, with his father born in Berlin and his grandfather born in Hamburg.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here on your first visit to Israel as foreign minister,” said Michelson. “We have a special relationship with your country, a relationship which no amount of bad press will affect.”
He explained that over its 116 years of existence, KKL-JNF has planted some 240 million trees – that’s 17,000 trees per week, every week, since its founding.
“In those years we have created parks and recreational areas for all the residents of Israel, including Christians, Jews and Muslims,” he said. “And you are here to help us in that endeavor.
“I wish you all the best for your term as foreign minister and I hope the relationship between our two countries continues to grow,” said Michelson.
Maas noted that friends do not always have to agree but what is important is to keep working together.
“The connection between Israel and Germany is personally important to me and I am looking forward towards the future,” said Maas. “The planting of this tree is an action which will have an influence on the future. It is important and I hope the tree I plant will grow and give shade to future generations.”
Ambassador Goetze was also invited to help plant the sapling.
Michelson presented Maas with a framed KKL-JNF Certificate of Appreciation.
He told the foreign minister that, because the carob tree he was planting could take up to 10 years to bring forth fruit, it indeed was a sign of hope for the future.
“It shows we are thinking of future generations and not just of ourselves,” said Michelson.
See photos of the tree planting ceremony with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas