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Angela Merkel

Analysis: What does Angela Merkel’s election win mean for Israel?

LAST UPDATED: 09/23/2013 06:48

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third consecutive electoral victory has profound consequences for Israel’s support in Europe and its security cooperation with the Federal Republic.

To understand German- Israeli relations under Merkel, it helps to compare her positions with those of her adversaries. Merkel’s party – the Christian Democratic Union (along with its sister party the Christian Social Union) – is the only German party to strictly oppose the new EU settlement guidelines. Her party’s statements on the guidelines, which bar EU cooperation with Israeli entities beyond the Green line, declare that the guidelines are not “objective requirements” and urge the EU to modify its regulations.

Merkel’s principal opponent, the Social Democrats, issued a statement to the main German-Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, declaring the party’s support for the EU sanctions targeting Israel’s work in the disputed territories.

The radical Left Party and the Green Party strongly favor the EU sanctions imposed on the Jewish state.

Merkel’s coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), wrote that there “are no EU sanctions against Israel” and the FDP rejects sanctions against the “only functioning democracy in the Middle East.”

The FDP did not explicitly declare the EU guidelines to be non-objective and simply called on Israel and the EU to reach an agreement.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “While Germany’s position is often muddled, Merkel has managed to largely avoid the visceral hostility to Israel, Jewish sovereignty equality and self-determination displayed by many European officials.”

He continued, “She also has a better understanding of Middle Eastern strategic realities, in contrast to the standard mythologies. This translates into cooperation with the US and Israel on key issues. And although Merkel was infected with the prevailing irrational dislike of Prime Minister Netanyahu, like Obama, she has reassessed this aspect of conventional wisdom. Her third term has the potential for greater strategic cooperation on Iran, and a reassertion of Germany’s post- Holocaust role in rejecting the anti-Israel demonization and acceptance of Palestinian victimization in Europe.”

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