German president: Our relationship with Israel is ‘solid’

During his visit to Israel, Germany’s president said his country’s relationship with the Jewish state was too important for “turbulence” and differences of opinion to disturb.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier played down recent tensions between Germany and Israel, saying that the two countries were too connected for disagreements to cause a rupture in the bilateral relationship.

“The basis upon which our relations are founded is solid, and can withstand all challenges, and even when there are disagreements between us, as there have been in the past, they do not endanger these foundations,” Steinmeier said after meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday.

“The foundation of our relationship is so broad that I think it can endure some turbulence like the one taking place in the last 14 days,” he added. “The unique relationship of our two states is too important to be measured solely by the question of who a legitimate interlocutor should be.”

Steinmeier, who had previously served as Germany’s foreign minister, was referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a meeting with current Foreign Minister Sigmund Gabriel, who visited Israel over a week ago.

Netanyahu acted in protest of Gabriel’s decision to meet with Israeli NGOs “Breaking The Silence” and “B’Tselem,” both extremely critical of the IDF.

“Imagine if foreign diplomats visiting the United States or Britain met with NGOs that call American or British soldiers war criminals,” the prime minister’s office stated. “Prime Minister Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organizations that call for the criminalization of Israeli soldiers.”

Notwithstanding the cancellation of his meeting with Gabriel, Netanyahu’s office stressed that “our relations with Germany are very important and they will not be affected by this.”

Nevertheless, Steinmeier conveyed his belief in the ability for “open and honest dialogue” to transcend differences of opinion.

“I believe that we can and should be able to lead an open and honest dialogue with one another, and to my mind, need no new rules,” he said.

“We should not impose any restrictions, we should have the trust that friends like we are will be able to interpret what they hear in the right way.”

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News