(JNS.org) German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a 16-member delegation of ministers arrived in Israel Monday for a two-day meeting with Israel Cabinet members. Israeli President Shimon Peres will award Merkel with the "Presidential Medal of Distinction."
In their fifth annual joint cabinet session, ministers from both countries are expected to sign several agreements, including one that will allow Israelis visiting countries without diplomatic relations with the Jewish state to get German consular services, Reuters reported. The meetings will also address planning for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"This visit is a golden opportunity to underline Germany’s long-standing and robust support for Israel and strengthen Germany’s increasing role in Mideast affairs… Germany and Israel have strong common interests and values. Now more than ever, this should be expressed in projects and agreements that can make a marked difference in the region," said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee's Berlin office.
Prior to the German delegation's arrival, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Israel's construction across the Green Line "disruptive" to Israel-Palestinian peace talks. But he also told Yedioth Ahronoth that although the two countries don't always agree, "Israel does not stand alone."
In public remarks with Merkel at his side Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his desire "to discuss the ways to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability," calling the Iranian threat "the greatest challenge to the security of the world."