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Herzog pays tribute to Angela Merkel ahead of German elections

CM 24/09/2021

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Just a few days before German citizens were due to go to the polls to elect a new Chancellor, Die Zeit, one of Germany’s leading national weekly newspapers, published a farewell tribute to current Chancellor Angela Merkel last Thursday and invited past and present political figures from several countries to share their memories and impressions under the heading of “Auf Wiedersehen” (Till we meet again).
Merkel is the first German chancellor to have been born after the Second World War, the first woman to serve in the role, and the third longest-serving chancellor overall, after Otto von Bismark and Helmut Kohl.
Given Israel’s special relationship with Germany, it seemed obvious that an Israeli politician, current or former, would be included in the international line-up. Logically, it also seemed obvious that the most likely person would be former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister who has had more dealings with Merkel than any other Israeli politician.

But as it was, the Die Zeit editors did not choose Netanyahu.
Instead, they opted for President Isaac Herzog, who first met Merkel in 2007, when as minister for welfare and social services, he was rostered to greet her on arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport. He was also set to meet her in his present capacity as president at the end of August, but Merkel, confronted with a new refugee crisis brought on by the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, canceled her scheduled farewell visit to Israel, although she will reportedly be visiting from October 11 instead.
Herzog wrote that he has watched Merkel with admiration “as she established herself as one of the greatest world leaders of the modern era. Her rise from the repressive reality of East Germany to the summit of the liberal world order is a striking symbol of the promise of the twenty-first century.  Her commitment to statecraft based on moral principles will be her enduring legacy.”
Herzog also commended Merkel for her personal commitment to Holocaust commemoration and to Israel’s security, adding that he looked forward to welcoming her soon in Jerusalem.

 FORMER PRESIDENT Shimon Peres meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his official residence in Jerusalem in 2011. (credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO) FORMER PRESIDENT Shimon Peres meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his official residence in Jerusalem in 2011. (credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)

After the first meeting with Herzog in 2007, Merkel was back in Israel in March 2008 to celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations. At that time, she addressed the Knesset, placing special emphasis on Germany’s commitment to Holocaust education and commemoration.
“The Shoah fills us Germans with shame,” she said. “I bow to the victims. I bow to all those who helped the survivors.” During that same visit, she also travelled with then-President Shimon Peres to Sde Boker, where they visited the grave of David Ben Gurion, who had entered into diplomatic relations with Germany during his time as Prime Minister, and formed a strong bond with Germany’s first post-war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer despite the strong opposition he faced for it.
During Merkel’s 60th anniversary visit, she and then-prime minister Ehud Olmert agreed to strengthen and intensify their political, cultural, economic, and societal relations through regular intergovernmental consultations. The first such meeting, co-chaired by Merkel and Olmert with ministers from both countries, was at Yad Vashem. 
Altogether, throughout her years as German Chancellor, Merkel has visited Israel some half a dozen times.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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