Sunday, February 27, 2011

Deciphering German foreign policy toward Israel and Iran

BERLIN – In the span of 48 hours last week, the German Foreign Ministry supported a Lebanese sponsored UN Security Council resolution which condemned Israeli settlement construction as “illegal,” and its top diplomat, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran at a time when the US and many EU countries are seeking to isolate Iran’s leaders as pariahs.How to make sense of what many critics say is a flurry of German anti-Israel UN activity coupled with their claims of a callous posture from the country’s Foreign Ministry toward the Iranian regime’s violent repression of its country’s pro-democracy movement? Let’s first dissect the UN vote. The Jerusalem Post learned from Israeli diplomatic sources before the UN vote that Yoram Ben-Zeev, Israel’s Ambassador to Berlin, was under the fairly certain impression that the Germans would join the Americans and prevent another diplomatic assault on the Jewish state at the UN. While Germany is not a permanent member of the Security Council, the Federal Republic, like Lebanon, is a non-standing member of the Council. There are currently 15 Security Council members, of which 14 voted against Israel.Israeli diplomatic officials said they wish to remained unnamed because of the high sensitivity associated with the UN vote.When asked about the German vote on Monday, an Israeli diplomat in Berlin declined to comment on the strong assurance that Germany would fall in line with the US veto. The diplomat, however, played down Germany’s backtracking, and chalked it up to EU policy conformity against the construction of Israeli housing in the disputed territories.According to a Ha’aretz last week, Germany’s decision to join the UN diplomatic attack on Israel prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to express his displeasure and disappointment with Germany’s vote during a Monday telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. An unnamed “senior German source” leaked the content of the conversation.

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