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Intergovernmental consultations with Israel

The fourth German-Israeli intergovernmental consultations took place on 6 December 2012 with “Innovation – Education – Sustainability” as their motto. The goal of the consultations is to further strengthen the close bilateral relations with an eye to the future.Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said that they helped both countries and their people get to know each other even better. The spectrum of topics discussed was as varied as the bilateral relations are. A joint declaration containing the results of the consultations was produced.

Merkel said that “placing cooperation with Israel on a broad foundation” was the goal of the intergovernmental consultations,adding in a press conference during the consultations that both countries desired “friendly, intensive, good and sustainable cooperation”.Preparations for the 50th anniversary of the special diplomatic relations with Israel in 2015 were one topic of the consultations, as was the expansion of youth exchanges and cooperation in the fields of science, research and education, agriculture and renewable energies as well as security.Joint development work in third states, for example in Africa, is also to be intensified.The situation in the Middle East was also on the agenda.

Expanding scientific cooperation

Before the consultations, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel had said that “Israel is a country with a remarkably high level of science and technology in many areas.” The countries agreed to intensify cooperation between research institutions and start-up sectors. In a joint press conference with Netanyahu, Merkel emphasized that in the discussions that the two heads of state had had with scientists before the intergovernmental consultations, it had become clear that in joint research projects getting to know something about the partners and their lives was important.

The future of bilateral relations

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© picture alliance / dpa

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At the press conference the Federal Chancellor also said that Germany and Israel wanted to promote “genuine relationships among young people”.Both countries wanted to do more for youth exchanges and scholarships for young people, she said.The countries are to establish a holiday work programme, among other things. Programmes for young professionals are also to be facilitated.

Resuming peace talks in the Middle East

Before the consultations, Merkel had said that Germany would always stand by Israel on the question of security, adding thatthe German Government was also working to promote a “two-state solution” in the Middle East.Peace talks should thus be resumed as quickly as possible, she continued. On the issue of settlement policy, the Chancellor conceded that there were differences of opinion, but stated that German-Israeli relations could withstand such differing positions.

Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle also said that direct peace talks were “the prerequisite for stability and a negotiated two-state solution”.In an interview he called on Israel and the Palestinians “not to do anything that impedes the resumption of direct peace talks”.

Historical responsibility

Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Track 17 (“Gleis 17”)

Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Track 17 (“Gleis 17”)
© photothek / Trutschel

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Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Track 17 (“Gleis 17”)

Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Track 17 (“Gleis 17”)

Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Track 17 (“Gleis 17”)

Together with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Westerwelle also took part in a memorial ceremony at the Track 17 (“Gleis 17”) memorial in the Grunewald district of Berlin on 6 December. During the era of National Socialism, 55,000 Berlin Jews were deported from the Berlin-Grunewald train station.Westerwelle underlined Germany’s responsibility for “the crimes against humanity of the Shoah”.This responsibility meant, he said, that anti-Semitism was never to be tolerated. He went on to say that the existence and the security of the state of Israel was something Germany considered non-negotiable.“We are thankful for the historical opportunity for reconciliation. Today, Germany and Israel are partners and friends,” said Westerwelle in his welcoming speech.

The first intergovernmental consultations were held in Jerusalem in 2008. Since then Israel and Germany have alternated in hosting them. Following consultations in 2010 and 2011, they are now taking place for the fourth time. Alongside Federal Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Westerwelle, Economics Minister Rösler, Finance Minister Schäuble, Defence Minister de Maizière, Education and Research Minister Schavan, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Aigner, Transport Minister Ramsauer, Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Niebel and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Neumann took part on the German side. Westerwelle hosted a reception at the Villa Borsig on the eve of the talks. The Federal Chancellor met with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Joint Statement of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the State of Israel, Berlin, 6.12.2012 (PDF, 42 KB)

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Last updated 06.12.2012

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