New German chancellor visits Israel as Ukraine crisis deepens
New German chancellor visits Israel as Ukraine crisis deepens.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial during his inaugural visit to Israel on Wednesday.
The schedule also includes talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and a visit to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
However, the major agenda item will be the war in Ukraine.
The trip had been planned long before the Russian invasion last week and due to the dramatic situation it was unclear whether it would even take place.
But Scholz departed as scheduled from Germany on Tuesday evening.
Israel could step in as a mediator in the war.
Bennett has been playing a delicate balancing act between Kiev and Moscow, while his condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been more muted than others in the West.
According to media reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised the possibility with Bennett of Israel hosting negotiations between the sides.
Scholz has been on foreign visits to Paris, Brussels, Warsaw, Rome, Madrid, Washington, Kiev and Moscow since taking office almost three months ago.
As Germany was the perpetrator of the Holocaust that killed six million Jews, successive governments in Berlin have seen it as their responsibility to ensure Israel’s right to exist and to protect its security.