Germany's foreign minister says his country vigorously supports US-mediated peace talks and encourages Israel to take the "difficult but necessary decisions" to make them succeed.
A day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel and nearly her entire Cabinet arrive in Israel for a two-day visit, Frank-Walter Steinmeier published an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth Sunday in which he vowed that Israel would not "stand alone."
"The democratic and Jewish State of Israel has unique ties with Germany," Steinmeier wrote. "No other country in Europe cooperates so closely with Israel in the fields of politics, science, culture and economy.
"The two countries walked a long and difficult path to reach this point. In our historical context, it seems like a miracle," Steinmeier wrote, and then posed a question: "Will Israel ever be able to trust the "land of criminals?"
Steinmeier then emphasized the close relationship the two countries have been enjoying in recent years.
Germany is possibly Israel's closest European ally and the two governments hold an annual joint Cabinet session.
Regarding the history of the two countries' relationship, Steinmeier wrote: "When Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1965, they regarded each other with cool suspicion.
"None of the observers could have predicted that after 50 years, German and Israeli ministers would sit around a shared governmental table to discuss different types of cooperation in various political arenas. That is exactly what the German chancellor and her 14 cabinet ministers will do with their Israeli counterparts. "
Sharing Merkel's sentiments, who made clear over the weekend that she will be pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on peace talks during her visit, Steinmeier also urged Israel to resume negotiations. "Israel has decided to participate in US-brokered talks regarding the implementation of a two-state solution. We highly support the negotiations and encourage Israel to take the difficult but necessary decisions."
Despite the close ties between the two countries, tensions have arisen of late over Israel's West Bank settlement policies.
"We need a stable two-state solution as soon as possible, with a Jewish state of Israel as well as a state for the Palestinians," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast on Saturday. Her government has been outspoken in its criticism of the settlements.
Steinmeier concluded his commentary by reiterating Germany's support of Israel. "At times, Israel feels secluded and misunderstood. The current discussion concerning Europe's policy towards Israel has resurfaced and emphasized these feelings. But Israel does not stand alone."
"Germany and Europe are important partners that that work determinedly towards the legitimatization of Israel and its right to exist," Steinmeier wrote.