JERUSALEM (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel late Saturday for a final visit before she leaves office.
German’s ambassador to Israel, Susanne Wasum-Rainer, tweeted that the visit aims to “strengthen our unique” relationship.
In power since 2005, Merkel boosted cooperation with Israel that Germany became Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe. In a 2008 trip marking Israel’s 60th anniversary, Merkel addressed the Israeli parliament, in German, and expressed shame over the Holocaust. The 20-minute speech earned Merkel a standing ovation.
But Germany, like much of Europe, was at odds with Israel when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Germany has called for a Palestinian state alongside Israel and opposes Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank.
On Sunday, Germany will meet Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, and are expected to talk on Iran. She will visit Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. On her agenda are also a meeting with Israel’s president and talks with business and high-tech representatives.
The two-day visit was supposed to take place in August, but was postponed after the developments in Afghanistan where the United States Europe scrambled to evacuate personnel and allies from the country as it Taliban took over.
Merkel last visited Israel in 2018.