German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sought to underline his country’s commitment to “our close friendship and our excellent partnership” with Israel at a meeting with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, as he cautioned the Israeli administration against launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
Despite conceding that from an international perspective, “any kind of nuclear option, weapons in the hands of the Iranian government is not acceptable”, he reiterated German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rhetoric that “we will keep up sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran. We still see room for diplomacy”, sidestepping Netanyahu’s calls for the west to draw “clear red lines” to prompt the Iranian regime to comply with their nuclear demands.
The meeting between the two statesmen followed Netanyahu’s weekly cabinet meeting address earlier on Sunday in which he praised his Canadian counterpart, close ally Stephen Harper’s “daring and moral” decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, a move unlikely to be replicated by other western governments.
Insisting the move sent “a principled and important message to the entire world, that the dark regime cannot have nuclear weapons”, the Israeli Prime Minister called on the rest of the international community “to follow in Canada’s determined path and set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons”.
He also used the opportunity presented by his meeting with Westerwelle to warn of the risk of Iran being able to reach 90% uranium enrichment in only six weeks, adding that such a move could blindside International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, who only visit Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities every two months.
The German Foreign Minister also met with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak Sunday, who raised the Jewish State’s concerns over Germany’s arms sales to Arab states, in particular the revelation last week of a deal to sell two German submarines to the Egyptian navy.
Speaking to reporters following his meeting with the defence minister, Westerwelle insisted that “Germany will acknowledge Israel’s security interests when making a decision regarding a submarine deal with Egypt”. Reiterating the two allies’ bilateral cooperation meanwhile, Barak declared “our ties with Germany stretch back many years and are based on a basic belief in democracy, values and remembrance, and we deeply appreciate this friendship”.
He further expressed Israel’s “appreciation” for “leading partner” Germany’s Iran statements, as well as the government’s contribution to strengthening the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and Gaza and to promoting peace and normalisation.
Netanyahu later echoed his sentiments as he expressed his “appreciation” for “Chancellor Merkel’s commitment to Israel’s security” and heralded the opportunity to discuss options for “enhancing peace and security in a very troubled region”.
Responding to the Premier’s references to ongoing threats to Israel’s security, as further rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, Westerwelle offered his “clear” condemnation of “every kind of terrorist attacks against Israel”.