The outgoing Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel stood in Jerusalem with her head bowed over the buried ashes of Jews killed in Nazi death camps, and pledged that Israel’s security will remain a top priority for “every German government.”
Merkel was in Jerusalem during her farewell visit to the Jewish state Sunday nearing the end of her 16-year in office. At 67, Merkel plans to step down once a new government is formed in Germany.
She was dressed in funeral black and laid a wreath at Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and wrote in the site’s guest book that visiting there “touches me at the core every time anew.”
Earlier she had held talks with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose opposition to Palestinian statehood is at odds with Western powers including Germany. Merkel told Bennett’s cabinet, “We sometimes disagree on questions such as whether there should be a two-state solution with the Palestinians, but we agree, I think, that there must always be a vision of a lasting democratic Jewish state of Israel.”
Merkel exclaimed, “Israel’s security will always be of central importance and a central topic for every German government.” She added, It was moving that Israel had come to trust post-war German, but this “trust always has to prove itself.”
Bennett hosted Merkel throughout the day and called her a “true friend of Israel,” and had earlier voiced confidence that whoever follows her as chancellor will feel equally committed. He also credited Merkel and described her fostering an unprecedented bond and was “Europe’s moral compass” between the countries due to her support for Israel.
Merkel had initially planned to visit in August but delayed her trip during the chaotic exit of U.S. and allied forces, including Germans, from Afghanistan.