German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

German president mulling Israel visit as athletes' families threaten boycott

Steinmeier considers traveling to Jewish state to convince families of 1972 Munich Olympics victims to attend ceremony marking 50th anniversary of massacre after relatives rage over lowball compensation offer

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 08.18.22, 10:48
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is considering a trip to Israel to meet with the families of Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a senior Israeli official told Ynet late Wednesday, to convince them to take part in a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the massacre after they threatened to boycott the event due to what they deemed insufficient compensation by the Germans.
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  • The official said the Germans feel they need to reconcile the Israelis after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas compared crimes against the Palestinians to the Holocaust during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday, drawing Jerusalem's ire.
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    פרנק־וולטר שטיינמאייר
    פרנק־וולטר שטיינמאייר
    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
    (Photo: EPA)
    Abbas made the remarks, accusing Israel of committing "50 Holocausts" against the Palestinians, after refusing to apologize for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants affiliated with his Fatah movement half a century ago.
    Scholz did not react verbally to Abbas’s comment at the moment, though he grimaced at the use of the word, which Abbas uttered in English. Scholz later said the use of the term in such a context was “unbearable.”
    The official noted, however, that Steinmeier would only travel to Israel if a better offer is presented to the families of the athletes.
    2 View gallery
    אבו מאזן ואולף שולץ
    אבו מאזן ואולף שולץ
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
    (Photo: EPA)
    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yair Lapid is expected to talk with Scholz on Thursday on the issue of compensation for the families. The conversation was scheduled before Abbas made his controversial remarks.
    The Prime Minister's Office said it is looking into the possibility of Lapid making a trip to Berlin and meeting with the chancellor in person next month.
    The Germans intend to hold the ceremony in Munich on Sept. 5 to commemorate the athletes who were murdered on German soil either way and recently submitted a new offer to the families for 200,000 euros for each of the remaining 34 relatives, taking the total sum from 5.5 million euros to 6.8 million, which the families rejected as well.
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