Merkel in Jerusalem: Iran must not have nuclear weapons 

Source: Merkel in Jerusalem: Iran must not have nuclear weapons – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Merkel stated that “the threat to Israel is greater due to what is happening in Syria now.”

BY TAMAR BEERI, TOVAH LAZAROFF
 OCTOBER 4, 2018 11:14
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is awarded an honorary doctorate from Haifa University, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to prevent a nuclear Iran as she spoke with Haifa University students in Jerusalem on Thursday morning.

Israel and Germany “share the view that everything must be done to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” Merkel told the students during a question-and-answer session.

The threat to Israel from Iran has become stronger due to its presence in Syria, Merkel said, noting that Iranian troops had been close to the Golan Heights border with Israel.

“It was a good thing that Russia saw to it that a withdrawal took place,” she added.

The point of disagreement with Israel, she said, is the question of the 2015 Iranian deal with the six world powers, including the US and Germany, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The question is whether the JCPOA “is the right way to prevent [Iran’s] nuclear armament, or is it too weak,” Merkel said.

Germany, like the European Union, holds that the deal is the best way to stave off a nuclear Iran, while Israel and the US believe that it strengthens the Tehran’s nuclear capacity. The Trump Administration has pulled out of the dealand would like countries like Germany to do the same.

Merkel said that that she and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had ongoing discussions on the issue of the JCPOA.

The two leaders are expected to meet later today.

Merkel dismissed reports that she had delayed her arrival in Israel to Wednesday night due to the planned demolition of the illegal West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar as “fake news.”

“It is an internal Israeli decision. It is up to the Israeli government and we did not intervene [by linking the trip to the village’s fate],” Merkel said.

Germany has been one of the European countries that has been publicly critical of Israel’s planned demolition of the village. It has also attacked Israel for its continued settlement building, underscoring that message by delaying it current trip by 18 months.

“I have certain criticism that I voice because I believe in a two state solution,” Merkel told the students.

When the plane took of for Israel, Merkel said, she thought, “my God, when we finally leave …  we will be living proof that the [contingency story] was fake news.”

Following a question about the Holocaust, Merkel stated, “we are at an important time because those who witnessed the Nazis are passing away.”

“We therefore have to fight to preserve this memory and need to be aware of how we preserve memory in a world where there are no longer witnesses to these crimes.”

Merkel said that Germany works to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive by teaching about it part of its educational curriculum, including visits to concentration camps.

On the issue of Israeli Arabs in Israeli society, she said, “it is essential to give those who are of Arab descent the understanding that they are part and parcel of the society.”

On the larger issue of gender equality in society, Merkel said that there were still many changes that needed to be made to gender roles and the structure of society in general.

“Equal rights can only become a reality if both genders accept it as the reality of the day,” Merkel said.

Professor Ron Robin, President of the University of Haifa, who sat on the stage at the Israel Museum together with Merkel to help moderate the conversation, assured her that his institution took gender equtality seriously.

“Sixty-five percent of the students [in the University of Haifa] are women and the percentage is the same among Arab women. We are doing our share in creating leaders in Israel society,” he said.

Merkel asked him in jest, “And how high is the percentage of members of the faculty who are women?”

Robin shifted in his seat and said, “we need to improve.”

At the start of the event, he awarded Merkel an honorary doctorate. “You have taken the mission of defending the liberal world order upon yourself and have expressed your determination both in words and actions,” said Robin. He added that the institution “shares this determination” with Merkel.

“In accepting this honorary degree from our hands, we see your acceptance of us as your partners in the critical mission to support our democracy at a particularly challenging time,” Robin continued. “We thank you for the honor you have given us as you are here with us.”

Merkel landed in Israel on Wednesday evening, beginning a two-day visit to Israel. The government-to-government visit was delayed by a year and a half due to disagreements regarding Israel’s settlement policies and approach to the Palestinians.

Her visit included a dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah Netanyahu. Earlier Thursday morning, she visited the official Holocaust memorial site Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

 

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