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German president to visit Israel


German president to visit Israel

German president Israel
Photo: Michele Tantussi/Reuters

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will hold talks today with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The visit comes amidst the recent ousting of Benjamin Netanyahu, after Israeli lawmakers passed a vote of confidence in favor of a coalition government between the Yesh Atid and Yamina parties, ending Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.

Germany and Israel’s relations were lukewarm under Netanyahu, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for a two-state solution clashed with Netanyahu’s nationalist stances. Yet, a recent rise of anti-Semitic protests in Germany saw the government ban the flag of Hamas, reaffirming their historic responsibility towards Israel.

Despite escalating tensions with Hamas, Bennett and Steinmeier will likely avoid discussing controversial topics such as the two-state solution, of which Bennett is an outspoken critic. Israel’s diverse coalition government is still heavily divided on the political spectrum, making a clear path to a two-state solution difficult for Germany to envision under the Bennett administration. Expect Germany to focus more on economic and technological cooperation in the short-term, careful not to probe the fragile Israeli coalition. It is likely Germany will wait for secularist Yair Lapid to become prime minister in 2023 before pushing for policy change towards the Palestinians.

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