German Coalition Agreement Critical of Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hans-Peter Friedrich (L) of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) attend coalition talks at the Social Democratic Party (SPD) headquarters in Berlin. (Reuters/Christian Mang)

Israel was given a sampling of what life with Germany might be like when the day comes that Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves office, as the newly unveiled coalition deal reflected her partners’ more critical attitude toward Israel.

The agreement between Merkel’s center-right CDU/CSU faction and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) includes a clause explicitly critical of Israel, a first for such coalition statements.

“Israel’s current settlement policy contradicts applicable international law and is not supported by us because it impedes a two-state solution,” the agreement reads.

Previous coalition deals have endorsed a two-state solution, but stopped short of condemning Israel’s policies in Yehudah and Shomron, according to The Times of Israel.

However, it marks no radical departure from prior policy, reaffirming Germany’s longstanding support for Israel: “We commit ourselves to Germany’s special responsibility toward Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and its security. Israel’s right to exist and its security are non-negotiable for us,” the agreement reads, almost the same wording as in the coalition platform signed by the so-called Grand Coalition in November 2013.

“At the same time we condemn any calls for violence and incitement. Israel’s right of existence must not be called into question. We demand that any actions — by either side — that are opposed to a final peace agreement be ceased immediately. In the Palestinian territories democratic progress is needed at all levels.”

In addition, the text agreed upon on Wednesday takes a position against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital before a final-status peace agreement with the Palestinians has been reached.

In another Trump-related provision, the agreement calls for an E.U. initiative “to ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for – and reforms of – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) that serves Palestinians refugees.” This, presumably in response to the U.S. decision to withhold funding for the organization pending reforms.

It also proposes “a new post of commissioner to lead fight against anti-Semitism and support Jewish life in Germany.”

The deal is not final. SPD’s roughly 464,000 members still have a chance to veto.

In a speech in Tel Aviv last week, SPD leader and current foreign minister Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said:

“As a friend and close ally, we need to know if Israel is not supporting a negotiated solution to this conflict anymore. So I ask those who oppose a Palestinian state: How do you want Israel’s future to look? Are you prepared to pay the price of perpetual occupation and conflict, a price that will continue to grow if there is no hope for self-determination on the Palestinian side?”

He added, “Are you willing to bear the consequences of fully fledged annexation — a one-state reality of unequal rights? Or are you ready to accept a single democratic state between the sea and the river?”