New German Government Israel Policy Unclear

Germany’s newly elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Thursday. (Steffi Loos/Pool via REUTERS)

As a new government takes over from the outgoing Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, pro-Israel commentators are expressing concern about what it might portend for the country’s Mideast policy.

The government has named Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party as foreign minister.

Baerbock has stepped back from her 2018 criticism of submarine sales to Israel and has expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself during the 11-day conflict with Hamas in May.

As to what her policy toward Israel will be in the months ahead, “It’s really too early to say,” Eldad Beck, an analyst of German politics for the Israeli daily Israel was quoted by JNS as saying.

The coalition agreement is more focused on climate protection and financial restructuring than Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian issues.

But it doesn’t ignore those issues. While Merkel endorsed the two-state solution, the new coalition partners inserted the telling phrase, based on “1967 borders,” which usually indicates delegitimization of Israel’s presence beyond the 1949 armistice line.

The coalition committed to negotiating with Iran in its quest for nuclear armament, is critical of the Israeli presence in Yehuda and Shomron, and supports funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

“It’s quite interesting that a German government that has very important Green Party elements is actually not opposing itself on any nuclearization of Iran,” noted Beck.

“They’re actually saying Germany shouldn’t be nuclear, and they’re closing down civil nuclear facilities but Iran can have it as it wishes. What is the essence of this contradiction?”

But then this is hardly radical departure from the Merkel coalitions, which also favored continued diplomatic talks with Iran.

The appointment of Claudia Roth, of the Green Party, as culture commissioner has generated concern.

“We now have a culture minister who is a close friend of the Iranians and who has bowed her head wearing a headscarf in front of the mullah regime, in addition to being a supporter of the cultural boycotters of Israel,” said Sacha Stawski, head of the pro-Israel watchdog group Honestly Concerned.

As culture commissioner, she might indeed portend trouble for Jews in Germany, but that doesn’t mean she will have much say in foreign policy.

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