Germany and Israel: Bilateral relations

28.02.2023 - Article

Germany has a unique relationship with Israel. This stems from Germany’s responsibility for the Shoah, the systematic genocide of six million European Jews under National Socialism. Since diplomatic relations were established between Germany and Israel on 12 May 1965, the relationship between the two countries has continuously been deepened and grown stronger, both at the official level and in the sphere of civil society. A new chapter in bilateral relations was opened with the establishment in 2008 of German-Israeli intergovernmental consultations. In October of 2018, the cabinets of both countries met for what was already their seventh round of consultations.

The unique nature of German-Israeli relations is a cornerstone of German foreign policy. Germany is an advocate of the State of Israel’s right to exist. As an active partner in the EU, Germany supports peace efforts in the Middle East. In the United Nations, Germany is an advocate for fair treatment of the parties to the Middle East conflict.

Germany is Israel’s most important economic partner in the EU, with bilateral trade worth 8.94 billion US dollars (2022). Products made in Germany enjoy an excellent reputation, and German firms are well positioned to bid on Israeli infrastructure projects.

Germany’s cultural relations and education policy focuses on, among other things, cultural, media and civil society exchange. In addition to funding individual projects, the German Government supports well-proven intermediary organisations (e.g. the Goethe-Institut). The importance of German as a foreign language is being underscored, among other things, through the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative. Relations in the areas of science and research are particularly intensive and include long-standing partnerships, for example with the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards grants that enable many Israelis to study and conduct research in Germany. The Federal Foreign Office supports the preservation of cultural heritage sites, such as the renovation of the Dormitio Benedictine Abbey in Jerusalem. A key pillar of the culture of remembrance is the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, with which the Federal Foreign Office cooperates closely.

Ever since the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952 (payment of some 1.53 billion euros), the question of reparations has been an important political issue in relations between the State of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany. So far, Germany has paid more than 80 billion euros in reparations (2021), including approximately 29 billion that have been paid to victims of Nazi persecution living in Israel.

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