"Practically every member of the new German government is here. This is a sign that it is important to us to take forward the friendship between our two countries," said the Chancellor on her arrival in Jerusalem on Monday. On Monday evening she had her first meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu.
Stepping up cooperation
Germany and Israel intend to step up cooperation in a number of fields - "across the entire spectrum of possible cooperation" as the Chancellor put it. The consultations will look at cooperation in the fields of business and research as well as exchanges involving citizens of the two states, especially young people. Angela Merkel announced that the current political situation will also be on the agenda.
Next year the two countries will be celebrating fifty years of diplomatic relations. This too will be discussed by the two Cabinets, said the Chancellor. "These five decades demonstrate how long Germany has been working to ensure a secure future for Israel: a two-state solution that would provide for a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state."
Germany is committed to Israel
Before leaving Germany Angela Merkel said that, for historical reasons quite apart from other considerations, Germany is committed to the state of Israel. "The Holocaust was unique and it demands that we keep learning from this period of history. For me the direct consequence is that the right of the state of Israel to exist must be a reason of state for Germany."
A wide spectrum of issues
The fifth government consultations will focus, among other things, on projects in the fields of science and research, triangular development cooperation, the environment and renewable energy, and youth exchanges.
"The German-Israeli government consultations also give us the opportunity to discuss issues that will shape the future; to talk about youth exchanges and the development projects that Germany and Israel are implementing together in African states, involving for instance irrigation in agriculture," said the Chancellor.
The government consultations aim to strengthen and expand German-Israeli relations. The first German-Israeli government consultations were held in Israel in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.
Youth exchanges, science and research
Promoting youth exchanges remains an important issue. Every year more than 250 bilateral youth encounters are sponsored within the scope of German-Israeli youth exchanges. Cooperation in the field of science and research is another pillar of bilateral cooperation.
Every year over 30 million euros from Germany’s public purse is channelled into this area, along with funding from foundations. German research organisations are stepping up their cooperation with Israeli universities. One example is the establishment of Max Planck Centres at the Weizmann Institute and the Hebrew University.
Anniversary in 2015
In particular the two Cabinets will be discussing preparations for the anniversary year. 2015 will mark fifty years of German-Israeli relations, as well as cooperation in the fields of innovation, education and sustainability.
On 12 May 2015 it will be fifty years since diplomatic relations were established between Germany and Israel. Germany will be organising public events throughout the year in Israel to showcase the country. The focus will be on cooperation, for instance in the cultural, academic and sports sectors.
Against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the end of the Second World War, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps and the 80th anniversary of the adoption of the Nuremberg Laws will be subjects of remembrance.
Peace process and "two-state solution"
Germany is supporting the efforts of the US Secretary of State to bring peace to the Middle East. "We need a stable two-state solution as swiftly as possible, that will ensure a Jewish state of Israel and statehood for the Palestinians," said Angela Merkel. "That is why I am working just as hard to ensure that the Palestinians have a state with a future, and that is why, in the overall scheme of things, the aim is to achieve a two-state solution."
Germany has close economic ties with Israel: Israel ranks 43rd among Germany’s most important export markets. In 2012 exports totalled 3.7 billion euros, which was 7 per cent up on the 2011 figure. German exports fell off slightly in 2013. German imports from Israel, at 1.7 billion euros, were 10 per cent down on the previous year.