At the joint press conference, both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that Germany and Israel are close and important allies and that this will not change in future. "The fact that these government consultations are taking place, 70 years after the state of Israel was founded, is an indication of our close, cordial relations based on partnership," said Angela Merkel. "During our visit to Yad Vashem it once again became clear to us how fortuitous it is that this has become possible."
"We have to admit that anti-Semitism can still be found in Germany, indeed in some places it appears to be getting stronger," said Angela Merkel. The German government intends to tackle this resolutely, one measure being the appointment of an anti-Semitism commissioner, as well as working to ensure the "success of Jewish life in Germany".
Angela Merkel and Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed ongoing talks to extend youth exchanges with a view to creating a German-Israeli youth office.
Situation in the region
With a view to Israel’s settlements policy, the Chancellor expressed her concern that this could make it more difficult to achieve a two-state solution. "Germany favours a two-state solution," stressed Angela Merkel. The Palestinian side must be encouraged to come to the negotiating table.
The two leaders also discussed the threat to Israel posed by Iran. "We are both of the opinion that everything must be done to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. What we do not agree on, is how to achieve this goal," said Angela Merkel. The political efforts that will be needed will "be a matter that will continue to occupy us in future".
Honorary Ph.D. from the University of Haifa
Before the political talks, the Chancellor and representatives of the German federal ministries visited the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where she laid a wreath. Following this, she was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Haifa, in Jerusalem.
In her speech to students, Angela Merkel declared, "The trust that is placed in me here is akin to a miracle. The miracle is, that in spite of the crimes against humanity committed by Germany, it is possible for us to come together here today and discuss the present and the future."
The Chancellor first discussed the future with students, before visiting information stands of German and Israeli companies with Benjamin Netanyahu. After the tour Angela Merkel expressed her own wish for the future. "If, next time, I were to meet a woman among the many hopeful business pioneers here, it would be no mistake. Start-ups still appear to be very male-dominated."
Dialogue with representatives of the business community
At the following Round Table on business matters, the focus was on closer cooperation in the field of innovation. Angela Merkel pointed out that this meeting was, in itself, an innovation. "This marks a new chapter in our German-Israeli government consultations. We have never before met with representatives of the business community."
For the talks, she hoped for reciprocal inspiration. "Your economic success is interesting for us, but what is even more interesting is what you would like to see in the way of a political framework and what we can, perhaps, learn from one another."
Following lunch with President Reuven Rivlin, the government representatives from Germany and Israel met. After a press conference and the subsequent joint session of the two Cabinets, the German delegation returned to Germany. The next consultations are to be held in Germany in 2019.