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What does the future hold for Israeli-German ties?

Berlin’s new leadership pledges to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Israel efforts, as well as established a UNRWA supervising team, but only time will tell whether promises will turn into action.

Olaf Scholz at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, on July 6, 2017. Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg via Wikimedia Commons.
Olaf Scholz at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, on July 6, 2017. Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg via Wikimedia Commons.
Eldad Beck (Facebook)
Eldad Beck

What will the ties between Germany’s new leadership and Israel’s center-left government look like? Berlin’s three-member coalition agreement spans 177 pages and includes a fairly detailed reference to ties with Israel. However, contrary to former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last two governments, it makes no mention of Israel’s Jewish character, a rather disturbing fact given that Germany vehemently opposed Israel’s Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

“Israel’s security is our utmost national interest,” the document states. “We will continue to work in the negotiations for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. We condemn the continuing threat to the State of Israel and the terrorism against its population, and welcome the beginning of further normalization of ties between other Arab states and Israel.”

The coalition agreement stresses that certain measures taken by both Israelis and Palestinians complicate efforts toward peace and must be avoided.

“From the Palestinian side, we expect progress in the areas of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. This includes renouncing all forms of violence against Israel. We call for the end of construction of settlements, which goes against international law,” it states.

Comparing Palestinian violence to the construction of settlements is another problem. We must also ask what international law Germany bases its Jew-free Judea and Samaria claim on. In fact, the German government, which encourages further normalization deals, should not be the one to oppose Jewish settlement, especially since it supports illegal Palestinian settlements, such as Khan al-Ahmar.

The coalition pledges to continue funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, although, for the first time, it includes the establishment of a supervising team. Whether this is actually be implemented, however, remains to be seen.

Members of the new coalition also promise to act resolutely against anti-Semitic condemnations of Israel, including those of the United Nations. Here, too, time will determine whether the promise will be kept.

As for Iran, the document says the new German government will work to quickly conclude the negotiations and bring about the revival of the nuclear agreement, with Iran returning to full compliance.

“The threat to Israel, the missile program, the aggressive regional policy and support of terrorism endanger peace and security,” the coalition agreement says.

Based on the latest round of nuclear talks in Vienna, the renewal of the deal seems far from its final stages. Will the German government be willing to sacrifice the economic benefits it will derive from normalization with Iran in order to maintain Israel’s security? It seems that the Greens, who want to close every possible nuclear plant, will kneel before Iran to meet the needs of the German economy.

Eldad Beck is an Israeli journalist and author.

This column first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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