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Michaelis pointed out in an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv (8/18/2011) that “Germany will continue its commitment to protect Israel’s security in every conceivable arena.” Asked whether the deadlocked peace process has impacted the special relations between Germany and Israel, Michaelis rejected the idea, stating that the relations between Germany and Israel are complicated as a result of the Holocaust. Still, he said, two things are changing in front of our eyes. The moral authority of the Holocaust survivors is diminishing as they die out, and the question is how we retain the memory of the Holocaust without the living survivors. Second, he added, Germany, too, is changing. “Germany has a great number of immigrants, and many of them are Muslims, but they are German too, and the operative question is how do they remember the Holocaust?”
Michaelis explained, “At times there are situations whereby a variety of groups in Germany are critical of Israel on the peace process and Germany’s relations with Israel. At such times it is particularly important for Germans to hear a clear response from our government. Chancellor Merkel rejects such criticism in a clear voice, and states unambiguously that the relationship with Israel is special, and that Germany continues to care about Israel’s security, as part of our historical responsibility of Germany towards Israel.”
Germany today has become very involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; in contrast to the role it played 20 years ago during the Oslo Agreements when Germany was not considered a major player. Michaelis pointed out that “Israel is situated in a dangerous region, and we believe that things would get even more dangerous for Israel if we will fail to solve some of the central problems in the region, one of which is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
According to Michaelis, just about every politician in Germany would agree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be solved by political means. He charges that there is no time to waste, and that efforts must be invested in the right instruments of negotiations. That is why Chancellor Merkel was the first European leader to announce the rejection of the Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
Michaelis said that “Germany succeeded to advance a position at the EU that prefers the two sides [Israel and the Palestinians] return to negotiations. At the moment the EU does not have a unified position on how to vote in September. But we have a common stance for the return of the parties to the negotiating table, and many of us are working on a formula that would make it possible.”
While the German government has been Israel’s primary ally in Europe, it is essential to note that German corporations are involved in trade with Iran, and that for many Germans, guilt over the Holocaust is largely over, and while acts of anti-Semitism are combated by the government, it is, nonetheless, a growing phenomenon. All this aside, in today’s Europe, Germany is the only EU member to stand with Israel on rejecting the Palestinian UDI.
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