TEL AVIV — Invoking their tragically unique history as a springboard for ever-strengthening strategic ties, leaders from Germany and Israel, in parallel meetings in Tel Aviv and Berlin on Tuesday, marked 50 years since the establishment of formal relations on May 12, 1965.
From the ashes of the Holocaust, Germany has evolved into Israel’s largest European trade partner and strategic benefactor, second only to the United States.
“In the 50 years since formalization of our diplomatic relations, Germany has proven in word and in deed its commitment to Israel’s security,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Speaking with Netanyahu after a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, von der Leyen praised Israeli willingness to forge relations, despite the “horrors” of the past.
“After my visit to Yad Vashem it’s even clearer to us that it is not to be taken for granted that 50 years ago, when we outstretched our hand to Israel, that Israel didn’t turn her back on us and we appreciate that.”
Von der Leyen met Netanyahu in Jerusalem a day after Israel and Germany concluded a €430 million (US $480 million) corvette package — nearly a third of which will be subsidized by Berlin. She said the four-ship deal was the latest in a growing list of some 70 projects solidifying bilateral security ties.