'Don't let Merkel address Knesset in German'

MK Eldad protests, says it would be a disgrace for the state of Isael.

Merkel 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Merkel 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Allowing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to address the Knesset in her native tongue would be a disgrace for the State of Israel, MK Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) said on Sunday. Eldad, who wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik requesting that Merkel deliver her speech in English, objected to Merkel's entire visit to the parliament. Merkel is scheduled to address the legislature next Monday, during a visit to the country accompanied by more than 80 diplomats and lawmakers. Knesset bylaws allow for heads of state, i.e. presidents and monarchs, to address the parliament. Itzik will have to alter the bylaws to allow all "foreign leaders" to address the MKs. The Knesset House Committee is set to discuss the change on Monday. Eldad has already called the proceeding a "sham," likening it to a decision made under the Ottoman Empire in 1898 to demolish the wall opposite the Citadel to allow Kaiser William II direct access to the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. "They tore down the walls. The Knesset wants to tear down walls once again, and change its bylaws to accommodate a visiting German," Eldad said. "With all due respect, Germans obey the law more than anyone else, they should understand." A spokesman for the German Embassy said the matter was "for the plenum to decide" and that the German government would not get involved in the dispute. Eldad said his "ears would ring" at the sound of German in the Knesset. Those exact words were used in 2000 and 2005, when German presidents Johannes Rau and Horst Köhler, respectively, addressed the plenum. Rau made history by being the first German to address the Knesset, provoking some MKs to walk out in protest and others to boycott the session. When Köhler spoke in 2005, several MKs decided to boycott the session, including Eldad (National Union), health minister Dan Naveh (Likud), Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party), Zvi Hendel (National Union), Hemi Doron (Shinui) and Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism). However, many MKs whose relatives perished in the Holocaust did attend the session.