Angela Merkel to visit Israel before retiring from politics

The German chancellor has always described Israel's national security as a crucial priority in German foreign policy
Angela Merkel

 -   Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing ahead with her political agenda before she bids farewell after 16 years at the helm of Germany. Merkel is using her final months to hold high-level meetings with top world leaders. Last July, the German chancellor travelled to Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden. In her 16 years at the helm of the German government, Merkel has seen four US presidents visit the Oval Office.

A month after her meeting with Joe Biden, the German leader travelled to Moscow to meet with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. During their meeting, the two leaders focused on the bilateral and international agenda, with an emphasis on Afghanistan, Ukraine and Belarus. A few days later, Merkel will head to Ukraine, where she will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski.

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AFP/ SAUL LOEB - In this file photo taken on July 15, 2021 US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC

After a busy end of August, Angela Merkel plans to travel to Israel next Saturday to meet with the leaders of the new coalition government, led by Naftali Bennet, which succeeded in dethroning former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power. Merkel plans to meet with the current prime minister and President Isaac Herzog during a visit scheduled for 28-30 August, according to German spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer.

The German Chancellor, who will retire from politics after the 26 September elections in Germany, will receive an honorary doctorate from Israel's Technion Institute of Technology. Merkel was quick to applaud the formation of the new government in Israel, a country that had experienced a period of great political instability with four elections in less than two years. Finally, and after arduous rounds of negotiations, last June, a coalition government formed by up to eight parties of different ideologies managed to form an executive that put an end to Netanyahu's 12 years in power.

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PHOTO/Reuters - Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The self-styled "Government of Change", under the auspices of Yair Lapid, leader of the main opposition Yesh Atid party, took the reins of the Hebrew country at a time of maximum tension following the escalation of violence in May between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which lasted 11 days and killed 253 Palestinians and 10 Israelis. During this escalation of violence, Germany defended Israel's right to "self-defence" and denounced attacks by Hamas, the de facto government in the enclave, into Israeli territory.

Angela Merkel has not had any contact with her counterpart since the new Israeli government came to power, so this will be the first meeting between the two before the German chancellor leaves office for good. Merkel, in congratulating the new government in June, again highlighted the good relations between the two countries and stressed that Israel and Germany were "connected by a unique friendship that we want to strengthen even more".

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PHOTO/AP - Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, left, as he speaks with Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid

Throughout her 16 years in power, Merkel has described Israel's national security as a crucial priority in German foreign policy. Although the German chancellor has not yet visited Israel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier did travel to Tel Aviv and visited Israel at the end of June, highlighting support for the country and pledging to continue to fight anti-Semitism in Germany.