During the acceptance speech, Merkel said her government was a strong supporter of Israel and a two-state solution to the Mideast conflict.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"We hope that Israel and its neighbors can live in security and peace," Merkel said. "Germany promotes with vigor a peaceful and sustainable solution for the Middle East conflict and we want to make that clear in European foreign policy.
"That is why again we support, together with our partners in the EU and the US, the efforts to put new life into the peace process and to achieve direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The goal is, and will remain to be, a two-state solution."
The prize is awarded by the Conference of European Rabbis, Europe's mainstream Orthodox rabbinic body, and by Brussels' Jewish community.
According to Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Merkel was honored for her "continuing efforts of inter-communal harmony across Europe, her friendship towards the Jewish community and outstanding contributions to the promotion of tolerance and understanding."
He said the prize marked her “strong record of support for the German Jewish community and her outspoken denunciation of anti-Semitism throughout Europe."
Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, also paid his respects to the chancellor, saying that “her support of the Jewish community and Germany and her close friendship with the State of Israel are remarkable. We really appreciate that."
According to Graumann, Merkel’s solidarity does not lie in Germany’s historical responsibility but “comes from the heart." He said her fast and decisive action last year, when a district court ruled that the religious circumcision of a young boy constituted an irreversible and unlawful attack on the child, proved her dedication to Jewish culture and community.
The Conference of European Rabbis announced that “the speed, with which Chancellor Merkel responded to this most urgent matter, delivering an agreeable solution which protected the religious practices of both the Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany, was received with relief and gratitude by faith groups in Germany, Europe and the world."
Graumann stated that, taking all of that into account, Merkel was a great spokeswoman for Jewish matters in Europe. “She definitely deserves this award," he said.