German-Israeli relations
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Germany-Israel relations refers to the special relationship between Israel and Germany based on shared beliefs, Western values and a combination of historical perspectives.[1] Among the most important factors in their relations is Nazi Germany's role in the genocide of European Jews during the Holocaust.[2]

Reparations agreement Edit

Main article: Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany

In the early 1950s, the negotiations began between the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Claims Conference Nahum Goldmann, and the Chancellor of West Germany Konrad Adenauer. Because of the sensitivity of accepting reparations, this decision was intensely debated in the Israeli Knesset. In 1952, the Reparations Agreement was signed.

Diplomacy and politics Edit

In 1950, Hermann Maas became the first German to be officially invited to Israel.[3] It took another fifteen years until West Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1965. Since then, mutual state visits regularly occur. German President Roman Herzog's first official visit outside Europe was to Israel in 1994. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was the first foreign leader received in Berlin after the German government's relocation from Bonn in the fall of 1999. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's visited Israel in October 2000. In 2005, the year of the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations,[4] German President Horst Köhler and Israel's former President Moshe Katsav exchanged state visits.[5][6]

The two countries established a network of contacts between parliamentary, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, as well as strategic and security ties.

On January 30, 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman announced that the German and Israeli cabinets would meet jointly in Israel in March 2008, in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. The meeting represents the first time the German cabinet has met with another cabinet outside of Europe. The joint meeting is expected to become an annual occurrence, and the next instance is scheduled to take place in Germany in 2009.[7]Israel and Germany strengthened their ties on March 17 2008 in one of the highlights of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's three-day visit to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation. Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed off on a range of projects, including in education, the environment and defense.[8]German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israel of Germany's "Holocaust shame," and asserted its support for the Jewish state during an unprecedented speech to the Knesset on March 18 2008.[9] It was the first time a foreign head of government spoke in front of the Knesset. Merkel's speech caused a furore with some members, including Binyamin Netanyahu saying the speech should be called off, or that Merkel should have to address the Knesset in English.[citation needed]


Germany is Israel's largest trading partner in Europe and Israel’s second most important trading partner after the United States. Israeli imports from Germany amount to some USD 2.3 billion annually, while Israel is Germany’s fourth largest trading partner in the North Africa/Middle East region.[1]

Culture, science and social programs Edit

The two countries enjoy extensive scientific relations, with cooperation in science between Israeli and German universities and the development of the Minerva Society. During the visit by President Katsav, Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse promoted the establishment of German-Israeli Youth Office – modelled on Germany’s joint youth offices with France and Poland – as a tool to educate German and Israeli youth about their respective histories and the sensitivities of their relationship.[1]

A number of exchange programs work between young Germans and Israelis. About 2,000 Israelis and 4,500 Germans currently participate each year in the exchange program run by Germany's Federal Ministry for the Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The German organization Action Reconciliation (Aktion Sühnezeichen) has played a role in bringing Germans and Israelis together. Since 1961, Action Reconciliation has sent about 2,500 volunteers to work in Israeli hospitals and social welfare programs. Churches and trade unions have been active in fostering relations.

Israel places great importance on sister city relationships with German cities. Haifa has five sister cities in Germany; Tel Aviv has two and Netanya has five. Over 100 Israeli cities and local authorities have ties with Germany.[10]

Military cooperationEdit

Germany and Israel have significant and long-standing military cooperation. From 1959 to 1967 the Federal Republic of Germany was a significant supplier of military equipment and arms to Israel.[11] However, after 1965, when West Germany backed out of an agreement to sell tanks to Israel, the United States filled the order by selling 210 M48 Patton tanks. The Merkava 4, uses a German MTU MB 873 Ka-501 air-cooled diesel V12 engine produced under license. Germany has supplied Israel with Dolphin class submarines while Germany utilizes the Israeli-designed Spike Anti-Tank Missile. In 2008, it was revealed that Germany and Israel had been jointly developing a nuclear warning system, dubbed Operation Bluebird, in secret.[12]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Israel-German special relationship". Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. Retrieved on 2009-07-14. 
  2. German Embassy. Background Papers. Germany and Israel
  3. Yad Vashem: "Hermann Maas"
  4. Israel and Germany to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations (Israel MFA) May 2005
  5. Address by Horst Köhler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, to the Knesset (Israel MFA) 2 February 2005
  6. Israeli President Katsav: "Germany is a True Friend of Israel" (German embassy) June 2, 2005
  7. AFP: Merkel to visit Israel marking 60th anniversary
  8. Historic agreement for Israel, Germany -
  9. "Merkel admits Germany's 'Holocaust shame'". CNN. March 18, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-06-11. "German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israel of Germany's "Holocaust shame," and asserted its support for the Jewish state during an unprecedented speech to the Knesset on Tuesday." 
  10. Choose your family, Haaretz
  11. Williamson, Murray, Knox, MacGregor, Bernstein, Alvin H., The making of strategy: rulers, states, and war, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p.549
  12. Lappin, Yaakov (2008-11-17). "Israel, Germany develop nuclear warning system". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved on 2009-01-25. "Working in secret, Israel and Germany have jointly developed a nuclear missile detection system, according to the Defense News Web site." 

External links Edit

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