Israel-Germany Tensions Mount as Merkel Seeks Way to Avoid No Vote on Anti-Israel Resolution
During their overlapping terms in office, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have shared a sometimes stormy but basically warm personal relationship. All that has changed for the worse and at a pace surprising to Middle East observers as Merkel refuses to accede to Netanyahu’s pleas to help defeat anti-Israel measures, the latest by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Following a diplomatic brouhaha surrounding a recent resolution that ignored any connection between Israel and Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Netanyahu was critical of those Western leaders who failed to help the Jewish state block the measure. Now, another resolution is set to be voted on by the UNESCO Executive Board, this one critical of Israel on several counts. Merkel was key to brokering an agreement among all European Union members to either vote in favor or abstain, but not to vote “no” which, according to Israeli officials, gives legitimacy to the charges against the Jewish state. Making matters worse, the vote against Israel will take place on its 69th Independence Day and only days after a diplomatic tiff between the two countries erupted when Netanyahu cancelled a scheduled meeting with the German foreign minister who defied the Israeli prime minister’s ban on foreign diplomats meeting with left wing organizations that criticize – sometimes inaccurately – the Israeli government and military.