German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak before a lunch as part of a one day governmental meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is no basis to reports that Germany wants to reassess the nature of its ties with Israel, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Wednesday following a day of talks in Berlin with top German foreign policy officials.
Gold met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, as well as with senior Foreign Ministry officials and said he found no evidence to support a report in Der Spiegel Saturday that influential voices in the German foreign policy establishment were calling for a reassessment of that country's traditional support for Israel because of Jerusalem’s settlement policy and what is perceived as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disinclination to move on the Palestinian issue.
“I found no foundation whatsoever for that sentiment,” Gold told The Jerusalem Post
Gold said that although the Der Spiegel
claims were discussed, they were not the focus of the talks.
One issue that was raised was the French peace initiative, which includes an international summit without Israeli or Palestinian participation at the end of the month, followed by an international peace conference in the second part of the year. Gold expressed Israel's opposition to the idea, saying Israel wanted direct negotiations, and it was important not to give the Palestinians an “escape route” so they don't have to sit down directly with Israel.
Gold distributed to his interlocutors a German translation of a February article he wrote in Le Monde
in which he said that “history has shown that the only path to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of direct negotiations between the parties themselves.”
The most likely outcome of an international conference, he wrote, was that the parties would negotiate with other parties at the conference, not each other.
If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas perceives that Israel is about to face new European pressure, he wrote, then he will not feel compelled to conclude a peace agreement with Israel. An international conference, he said, “is the fastest way for outside powers to destroy the peace process.”
Another issue that was discussed was recent Iranian missile tests, and Tehran's exploration of missiles of greater range and capabilities.
Gold also discussed Iran's missiles during a speech he delivered Wednesday at Bergen Belsen, the concentration camp in northwestern Germany where his mother-in-law Dina Sherman was relocated to from Auschwitz. Her sister, he said, “died in her arms in this place.”
“In present times, there is a new anti-Semitic wind blowing across Europe, reviving memories of what transpired on this continent decades ago,” Gold said. “And even the physical threat to the Jewish people remains, emanating most recently from the Islamic Republic of Iran. It parades nearly every year a missile in Tehran, called the Shahab-3, and fastens to its launcher the words, ‘Israel must be wiped off the map’."
Gold said that Iran's leaders were not leaving any doubt what their missiles were intended for, and noted that the IAEA reported already in 2011 that the country wanted to replace the conventional warhead on this missile with a “spherical nuclear payload.”
Mentioning that the “Israel must be wiped off the map” slogan was this year written in both Farsi and Hebrew on the more advanced Qadr-H missile, he said this was done despite the nuclear agreement signed last year between the Islamic Republic and the Western Powers.
“It is therefore no wonder that Israel feels it must do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” he said. “This is not an obsession but a sacred trust handed to us by the people buried here.”
The legacy from Bergen-Belsen for Israel and the Jewish people “is not only a particularistic imperative,” he said, noting that Jewish judges and jurists have since the end of World War II stood at the forefront of the international struggle against genocide in any context.
“Despite these and similar legal efforts, genocide has persisted since the Second World War: in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia,and across the Middle East. Israel is a small state,” he said. “But Israeli diplomacy must do everything in its power to recognize the warning signs and the threats of genocide and then to mobilize and press states to prevent it. That is an enormous responsibility, but as the survivors of the greatest crime in human history, we must bear that burden and undertake to banish this threat from the family of nations.”