Merkel in Israel – speech stirs controversy
Photo: AP
MKs to boycott Merkel speech
At least four Knesset members plan to stay away from parliament Tuesday to express their objection to Angela Merkel's German-language speech; Other MKs, including Holocaust survivor, slam boycott
Anti-German boycott: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to deliver a speech at the Knesset Tuesday, in German, but Ynet has found that at least four Knesset members intend to stay away from parliament in order to express their objection to the speech.


The red carpets are already awaiting the German chancellor, who will be received at the Knesset at 2:30 pm Tuesday and proceed to sign parliament's guest book. Merkel is scheduled to meet with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and at 3:00 pm will attend a festive dinner held in her honor.


Joint Israeli-German government session (Photo: AP)


The official event at the Knesset will get underway at 4:30 pm with a speech by Itzik, followed by speeches by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Following the Hebrew speeches, Merkel will address the Knesset in German.


'I don't intend to forgive or forget'

However, not everyone at the Knesset is interested in hearing a German-language speech at Israel's parliament. One of them is MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-NRP.) Fellow party member Yitzhak Levy also told Ynet that he will not be entering the plenum to begin with.


"It is very very difficult to hear the German language at the Knesset. We want to remind people that even though Germany certainly displays friendship towards Israel these days, we still remember what happened," he said. "I do not want to come in and then leave, because there is no reason to hurt her personally. Therefore, I won't come in at all."


Likud Knesset Member Yisrael Katz said he also intends to stay away from the special session.


"I have no intention to take part in an event in the presence of German figures in light of their responsibility for the massacre of the Jewish people," he said. "I do not intend to forgive or forget. I do not take part in any ceremony that includes the participation of a German figure."


Another Likud MK, Limor Livnat, will also stay away from the Knesset.


Holocaust survivor slams 'populism'

However, the objecting Knesset members have been criticized by other MKs. Knesset Member Sara Marom Shalev (Pensioners' Party,) who is a Holocaust survivor, said she sees no problem with a German-language speech at the Knesset.


"It does not bother me at all that Merkel chose to deliver her speech in German," Marom Shalev said. She added that she will not be present at the Knesset because of previous obligations, but said that the objection to a German-language speech is "no more than populism."


Meanwhile, Knesset Member Ophir Pines (Labor) also condemned MKs who intend to boycott the session.


"I am the son of a Holocaust survivor and I had the privilege last week of appearing at the German parliament in an event initiated by Germany on the occasion of Israel's 60th Birthday. I spoke in Hebrew, and I think that today Israel and Germany have a unique relationship that in no way forgets the horrors of the past, but builds a safe future together."


"The boycott is a misguided provocation, and I hope that it does not overshadow the event," he said.


Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, meanwhile, said that he hoped Merkel does not ignore Palestinian suffering in her speech.


"Thus far, she presented positions that it would be difficult to describe as balanced, unlike other countries in Europe," he said. "The Palestinians deserve empathy, even from an important country like Germany."


פרסום ראשון: 03.18.08, 00:17
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