Merkel Holds Cabinet Meeting in Jerusalem

German celebrates Israeli statehood with 3-day trip
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2008 6:18 AM CDT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center left, and Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, right, at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Sunday March 16, 2008.    (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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(Newser) – When Angela Merkel holds her weekly cabinet meeting today, it will meet not in Berlin but in Jerusalem—a special gesture to mark the 60th anniversary of Israeli statehood. Only a few decades ago Israelis marched in protest when the country welcomed its first German ambassador, but now the chancellor will become the first foreign head of government ever to address the Knesset. The Times of London reports on the remarkable evolution of relations between the two nations.

As a child in East Germany, Merkel learned more about Hitler's persecution of Communists than of the Jewish genocide. Now she is Jerusalem's staunchest ally in Europe, and her country is the leading supplier of arms to the Israeli Defense Forces. "This is a very special birthday for Germans, the opening of a new chapter," said German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (Read more Israel stories.)