Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made the following remarks, this morning at the start of the festive Cabinet meeting attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
"This is a special Cabinet meeting, with a special guest – Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, a true friend of the State of Israel. Welcome to Jerusalem.
The visit is laden with content, including essential matters for assuring the security of Israel for future generations. We have already had a warm and serious conversation on these issues.
Madam Chancellor, this government is varied in its views; it could be the most varied in the world. Around this table one might hear almost every possible opinion on every issue. However, among all those who sit here there is basic agreement on several substantive issues.
One is the importance that we all ascribe to relations with Germany, the need to maintain and improve them, and the high regard that everyone here has for the special role that you have played over the years in strengthening this bond, which sits on an immense historical wound.
First and foremost, we appreciate your continuing commitment to the security of the State of Israel. I would like to quote you Chancellor, in words that could not be more precise: 'Israel is still the only state in the region that has democracy and has the rule of law, freedom of opinion and pluralism. The security of Israel is part of Germany's national interest. We are no neutral.'
In this very important sentence, there is a moral stand that is so important to hear, especially in Europe: We are not neutral. Not because of the moral debt and the special relationship between the two countries, but because the State of Israel is truly, as I said at the UN, a lighthouse in a stormy sea.
Whoever maintains neutrality in the conflict between Israel and countries like Iran and organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah has lost their moral compass.
For years, you, Chancellor, have served as the moral compass of all of Europe and have taken an uncompromising line in supporting Israel.
The world is currently sitting and waiting for a decision in Teheran, whether or not to return to the discussion table in Vienna and to reenter the JCPOA nuclear agreement.
Unfortunately, in the last three years the Iranians have taken a giant leap forward in their ability to enrich uranium. The Iranian nuclear program is at its most advanced point ever. The world is waiting, the Iranians are playing for time, and the centrifuges are spinning.
The responsibility on Israel is to make certain – in actions, not speeches – that Iran will not have nuclear weapons, ever. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such an extremist and violent regime will change the face of the region and the world. For us this is not a strategic problem, but an existential issue.
Madam Chancellor, members of the Cabinet, around this table it is possible to see the true face of Israel: Men and women, left and right, Jews and Arabs.
We are a state that works for the welfare of its citizens, but also aspires to contribute to the world. For example, Israel is currently slowly emerging from the Delta wave of the CoronaVirus, after a giant booster inoculation campaign, while the economy stayed open throughout the period.
We have garnered much experience and knowledge – practical, life-saving knowledge – and we are sharing this knowledge with the world in every possible way.
I take advantage of the fact that, for all intents and purposes, this is a working visit. Therefore, I request that ministers pay special attention to the that need to be issues that need to be advanced in the joint work between the two governments, including assisting Holocaust survivors, strengthening economic ties particularly in innovation and preserving the future of the planet, and strengthening the ties between our nations, especially the youth, the future generation, through youth delegations.
The Chancellor has noted that there are certain barriers regarding youth exchanges; I am instructing the relevant government ministers to find a quick solution to this matter. Now that it will be easier to travel, we want to see very brisk traffic between the two countries.
Madam Chancellor, we are very pleased to host you here today, and I would like to take this opportunity to convey to you the deep appreciation of the people of Israel for your standing by us over the years, in words, and more importantly – in actions. You are a great friend of Israel. Thank you our friend.”
📸 Government Press Office
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