Nearly 70 years have past since the Holocaust. This cruel chapter in German history was followed by reconciliation, partnership and friendship, as Israel gave Germany the gift of trusting it again, and we are grateful for that. For Germany, the relationship with Israel means an ongoing responsibility to make certain the Holocaust is remembered.
"Never again" was the lesson we drew from the days of the national-socialist regime. The first article of Germany's basic law states that "human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority."
Germany stands by Israel and consistently defends its security and right to exist. This position is a cornerstone of German foreign policy, and we are working to promote the idea of "two-states" so that the Israeli and Palestinian people will be able to live in peace and security within recognized borders.
Moreover, Germany supports the transformation of the "Arab Spring" countries into democracies that safeguard human rights and is working to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian dispute. Germany represents the viewpoint according to which the negotiations between the sides must progress in a speedy and practical manner to ensure regional peace, and it believes that is incumbent upon Iran to reach a compromise with Israel and the international community.
In Lower Saxony the Jewish community is very active. The local government maintains very strong relations with the Association of Jewish Communities. Its chairman, Michael Fürst, traveled with me to Israel. Lower Saxony and Israel cooperate in a number of areas. Eight Lower Saxony cities have signed sister city pacts with Israeli cities, and there is also intensive cooperation on student exchanges, youth programs and memorial sites. My visit to Israel is aimed at boosting this cooperation.
While in Israel, I will hold political talks in Jerusalem, visit Yad Vashem and meet with Holocaust survivors. In addition, I will be briefed by senior IDF officers on Israel's security situation. I will also visit Ramallah, in the Palestinian territories, to study the situation there.
Our visit is aimed at strengthening the bond between the Germans and the Israeli people. We are visiting Israel, as President Peres Shimon Peres put it in his impressive address to the German Bundestag two years ago, "to dream together of a Middle East in which all the countries are willing to exchange the dispute of the parents with peace for their children."
David McAllister is the minister-president of the German state of Lower Saxony