German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) greets Israeli President Reuven Rivlin upon his arrival for a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 12, 2015..
(photo credit: ADAM BERRY / AFP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday that reaching an agreement with Iran might prevent further development of Iran’s nuclear capability. However, she added, the current reality shows no promise of an agreement.
She also reiterated Germany’s commitment to Israel’s safety and security.
In response, Rivlin said that tougher sanctions on Iran would probably be a more effective measure than the present situation. He also emphasized that, if attacked, Israel reserves the right to defend itself to the best of its ability.
Prior to her meeting with Rivlin, Merkel visited a school in Berlin where she was asked by one of the students why Germany continues to sell weapons to Israel.
Merkel unhesitatingly replied that, because six million Jews lost their lives under the Nazi regime, Germany is obligated to defend Israel.
“We sell weapons to Israel, which is often under attack, because we believe that Israel must have the ability to defend itself,” she said, adding that Germany continues to believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rivlin has repeated in several instances that the friendship and cooperation between the two countries is the outcome of shared values and is not compensation for the Holocaust.
Though not the first president of Israel to visit Germany, Rivlin’s state visit this week to join with Germany in celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations is being extensively covered by the German and European media.
Rivlin told Merkel that in recent years relations between the two countries had been based on friendship, the sharing of knowledge and the ability to look to the future, while learning the lessons of the past. It was a great honor for him, he said, to mark such a significant a milestone as the jubilee alongside Merkel.
Rivlin and Merkel subsequently met with 20 young Germans and Israelis and participated in a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the bilateral relationship.
Rivlin commented that the young people are learning about the past and looking to the future and fixing what needs to be fixed.
“The young people of today are the world leaders of tomorrow,” he said, stressing the need to be able to look to the future without evading the past. “Our discussion is not just about Israel and Germany, but about how to create a better world and a better future for everyone,” said Rivlin.
Merkel welcomed the meeting with the young people, which she called a golden opportunity to get their important perspective when determining policy.
“After the Holocaust, it is truly a miracle that you are here together,” she said, adding “relations between Israel and Germany are a miracle in themselves.”
Continuing on this theme, Merkel said that she does not know where Israeli politicians derive the courage to look to the future without forgetting the past. For former east Germans like herself, she noted, the bilateral relationship with Israel is of only 25 years duration, having begun with the reunification of Germany.
She grew up in the former east Germany, which did not have relations with Israel, she said, but was delighted to meet with Rivlin to cement the relationship on such a festive occasion.
Rivlin also had a working meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Sternmeier.