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German Chancellor Merkel Visits Israel Amid Disagreements Over Iran, Palestinians
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) attend a lunch during the 6th German-Israeli government consultations at the chancellery on February 16, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Dominik Bindl-Pool/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Merkel Visits Israel Amid Disagreements Over Iran, Palestinians

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel Wednesday evening for a 24-hour visit ostensibly geared towards enhancing economic ties but which is liable to be dominated by discussions on Iran and the Palestinians. It is the German leader’s first trip to the Jewish state in four years and her fifth overall since assuming office in 2005. The annual government-to-government meeting, including members of both countries’ cabinets, was instituted a decade ago in order to showcase close bi-lateral relations but was postponed last year due to Berlin’s anger over Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Upon touchdown, Merkel immediately traveled to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence where they reportedly were joined for dinner by the head of Israel’s National Security Council, signaling talks focused on Iran’s nuclear program and efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria. Notably, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met almost concurrently in Washington with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, suggesting a coordinated effort on the part of the Trump administration and Netanyahu government to persuade Merkel to curb trade with Tehran. During her visit, the chancellor will tour Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center; receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa; meet with President Reuven Rivlin; hold another private meeting with the Israeli premier; and then, along with Netanyahu, chair the high-level diplomatic session.

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