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Benjamin Netanyahu Administration: PM Netanyahu and Chancellor Merkel Issue Joint Statement at the Inter-Governmental Consultations

(February 16, 2016)

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister reiterate the great importance they attribute to the relationship between the two Governments and the two peoples and have decided to convene the next consultations in Jerusalem during 2017.

On 16 February 2016, the Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel held the sixth round of intergovernmental consultations in Berlin.

Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the State of Israel co-chaired the consultations and noted with satisfaction the progress made since the last consultations held in Jerusalem on 25 February 2014.

The discussions showed how deep and broad the cooperation between Germany and Israel has become 50 years after the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. Both sides agreed that the past 50 years had witnessed an increase in bilateral cooperation between all parts of society to an extent nobody would have dared to imagine in 1965. They reiterated their shared goal of building on the strong foundations and continuing to enhance the unique and special partnership between the two states.

This cooperation looks clearly towards the future and has already fully arrived in the 21st century. At the same time, both sides agreed that the preservation of the memory of the Shoah for future generations continues to be a pillar of their relationship. In this context, Germany emphasised its commitment and special responsibility to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and to its security. Both sides also strongly reaffirmed that any challenge to the right of existence of the State of Israel is unacceptable. Against the backdrop of unrest and terrorist threats in the region, both sides expressed their hope for Israel’s peaceful coexistence with all its neighbours.

They reconfirmed their strong commitment to human rights and to the fight against all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, including religiously motivated attacks. Both sides emphasised that the common values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law are the solid foundation for the partnership and friendship between the two states.

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister wish to thank the many people who work continuously to promote and deepen the ties between their countries and their societies.

The following Government members took part in the consultations:

On the German side: Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Mr. Sigmar Gabriel; Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Thomas de Maizière; Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Mr. Heiko Maas; Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Security, Ms. Barbara Hendricks; Head of the Federal Chancellery, Federal Minister Mr. Peter Altmaier; Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Ms. Dorothee Bär; Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Mr. Thomas Rachel and Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Thomas Silberhorn.

On the Israeli side: Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Economy and Trade, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu;Minister of Infrastructure Energy and Water, Dr. Yuval Steinitz; Minister of Justice, Ms. Ayelet Shaked; Minister of Aliyah Absorption, Mr. Ze`ev Elkin; Minister of Building and Construction, Mr. Yoav Galant; Director General of the PrimeMinister's Office, Mr. Eli Groner; Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dore Gold; Director General of the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety, Mr. Uzi Itzhaki and Head of the National Cyber Bureau, Mr. Eviatar Matania.

The Government consultations focused on the following topics: 

Innovation in the 21st Century

Innovative solutions are the factors that drive prosperity and support quality of life. Good ideas translated quickly into innovative products and services strengthen Germany‘s and Israel’s position as industrial nations. Investment in education, science, technology and innovation is a key factor in achieving this goal. Germany and Israel therefore agree to strengthen and deepen the cooperation in the field of innovation at bilateral level as well as within the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon 2020”.

The basis for this cooperation is the excellent and fruitful scientific cooperation between Germany and Israel. On the basis of successful projects in the past, the two countries intend to continue their cooperation in the fields of water technology, civil security research, battery research, ocean research and cancer research. To foster innovation, the two countries emphasise their intention to intensify research programmes supporting technology transfer into SMEs and start-up companies, initially in the field of applied nanotechnology.

German-Israeli cooperation covers the full spectrum from basic research to applied and industrial research, as well as the partnership between the startup-ecosystems (“EXIST Startup Germany – Israel Programme”), which was initiated in 2015. Germany and Israel will continue their well‑established and proven cooperation conducted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s ZIM programme and the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy, which focuses on developing innovative products and applications in all technological and application areas.

Digitisation is increasingly and dynamically pervading all areas of our society and economy. Our world is becoming more and more digital and is thus moving closer together. The Governments of both states will lobby at international level to ensure the preservation of the open Internet and the equal treatment of all data. At the same time, both states will support the development of new and innovative digital services.

A reliable, sustainable and affordable energy supply is essential for successful economic development. With regard to the role of renewable energy, the two governments take into account that, as a result of cost reductions in technologies such as wind onshore and photovoltaic, the economics of renewable energy is constantly improving.

In the electric mobility sector, which is an important component of future transport systems, the two countries have been working together for many years. The important milestones during the last twelve months were the participation of high-level representatives from both states in the “Future Mobility Camp” in Berlin in September 2015 and the last “Fuel Choices Summit” in Israel in November 2015. The Governments are endeavouring to further strengthen the established cooperation.

Responsibility for our Societies

Germany and Israel recognise that urgent and concrete action is needed to address the imminent threat of climate change. Both countries strongly welcome the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, which sets a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To this end, Israel and Germany emphasise the importance of the ambition mechanism in the Agreement, which includes a global stocktake of implementation measures and a process to communicate more ambitious nationally determined contributions every 5 years, combined with the establishment of a robust transparency system. Germany and Israel will do their part to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, among other ways by pursuing domestic mitigation measures as a basis for more ambitious nationally determined contributions, by strengthening their cooperative action on technology development and transfer and by endeavouring to become greenhouse gas neutral in the second half of this century, including efforts to transform their energy sectors by 2050.

The Governments welcomed the adoption of the ambitious, people-centred, planet-sensitive and universally applicable 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social– in a balanced manner, accelerates the global transition to sustainable economics, promotes sustainable management of natural resources and constitutes a milestone in our world’s transition to one which provides a sustainable future for all. The Governments reaffirmed their commitment to take responsibility for the global commons in accordance with their obligations under multilateral environmental agreements and to ensure the highest effort in the implementation of the Agenda.

Moreover, the Governments welcomed the adoption and signing of a Joint Declaration of Intent between MASHAV and BMZ on the German-Israeli Africa Initiative which outlines the ongoing development cooperation in six African partner countries and provides guiding principles for the partnership. The Governments expressed satisfaction with the outcomes and successes of the joint projects so far. Both sides highlighted the close relations between MASHAV and BMZ and the productive annual Development Dialogue held between the two parties.

In Germany, all areas of social and economic life utilise the possibilities that arise from the use of cyberspace. Networks are global; cyberspace is the virtual space of all IT systems linked at data level on a global scale. Today, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and the National Cyber Bureau of the State of Israel signed a Joint Declaration of Intent with a view to intensifying their cyber security cooperation. The aim is to help make IT systems more secure and make the Internet an area of freedom and security.

Interaction between Societies

The Governments reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen educational activities and initiatives, which will help to further deepen the mutual understanding and cooperation between their two societies. They emphasised their willingness to initiate new projects. Both Governments welcome the introduction of German as a regular subject in Israeli secondary schools in 2015, and will do their best to implement the corresponding Joint Declaration of Intent of 8 July 2015. They support the work of the German Central Agency for Schools Abroad, the Goethe-Institut and other organisations for the promotion of the German language and of cultural cooperation in Israel.

Voluntary Services are also good instruments for deepening the relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel. For more than 50 years now, young Germans have been performing voluntary services in Israel. On 11 May 2015, the German-Israeli Voluntary Service was founded in Berlin. The Governments welcome the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel to invite young German leaders (“The Plane Project”) for a visit to Israel as a further means of strengthening the relations between the younger generations in the two countries and of increasing their understanding of each other.

Equally appreciated are the well-established exchange between German and Israeli apprentices and the joint research activities in the field of vocational education and training. The Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research highly value this cooperation, which provides a multitude of professional and cultural encounters.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior and Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport confirm their close and good cooperation in the field of sport, which plays a major role for the understanding between Germany and Israel, by signing a Joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the Field of Sports. One of the highlights of sport cooperation were the European Maccabi games, which were held last August in Berlin.

In December 2015, both ministers of Justice participated in a Joint Legal Conference on “Democracy and the Rule of Law” in Berlin. The Conference highlighted the special relationship between the two justice ministries, and offered a forum for high-level dialogue and exchange on legal issues. At a bilateral meeting held within the Conference, the ministers of justice signed a Joint Declaration concerning Cooperation in the Legal Field, commending the strong bilateral cooperation existing between the ministries of justice under the Cooperation Agreement signed between the ministries in 1989, and expressing a commitment to further enhance and strengthen bilateral cooperation. The ministers have discussed initiatives to realise this shared commitment, including a planned visit to Israel in 2016 by German Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Heiko Maas.

Further areas of cooperation

The Governments highlighted the importance of the close contacts between the German and the Israeli Ministries of Transport, which will create a framework for future cooperation. Both sides agreed that the authorities of each Ministry will agree on a schedule of future bilateral and international cooperation within relevant UN bodies with the aim of signing an agreement on procedures for the mutual recognition of driving licenses and an agreement on maritime transport in the near future.

In May 2015, the official start of the project for a future Center for Architecture and Heritage for the White City was celebrated in Tel Aviv-Yafo in the presence of Mayor Ron Huldai and Federal Minister Barbara Hendricks. On this occasion, a first agreement on joint measures for the year 2015 was signed between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Foundation. A second agreement for long-term cooperation for another ten years from 2016 to 2025 between the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Foundation and the Federal Ministry for Building was signed in November 2015. First projects (inter alia exhibitions and lectures) on the White City issue have already been initiated and will take place in Tel Aviv-Yafo this year.

The 50th anniversary of bilateral relations has further increased the activity level between the two Governments. The bilateral cooperation goes beyond the topics discussed during the consultations:

The Governments congratulate the winners of the German-Hebrew translator’s prize for 2015, initiated and financed by Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, as part of a joint project honouring outstanding translations in the field of fiction and non-fiction literature from Hebrew into German and from German into Hebrew. The prize will be awarded every two years.

In light of demographic change and the challenges of ageing societies, the Governments concur that there is a need to make better use of the potential of senior citizens, for the good of society, of the economy and for ensuring good quality of life and economic security for pensioners. On 18 January 2016 the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, and the Israeli Ministry for Social Equality confirmed this interest by signing a Joint Declaration of Intent concerning Senior Citizen Policies.

The realisation of gender equality, women’s empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights are key to a socially equitable and sustainable development. Equal participation of women and girls in all fields of the society and combating all forms of violence against women and girls are an integral part of this.

Better regulation ensures that policy is prepared, implemented and reviewed in a transparent way. Both Governments agree that better regulation is now close to the centre of government. Both Governments will work towards strengthening the exchange on better regulation.

Additional Remarks by PM Netanyahu at the Joint Statement with Chancellor Merkel

The French initiative, as it has been published, is curious. It says: We will hold an international conference but if you do not succeed we are already predetermining the result – we will recognize a Palestinian state. It does not matter if this state could become another Islamic dictatorship, one of many in the Middle East. It does not matter if it will not genuinely commit to ending the conflict and recognizing the state of the Jews. It does not matter if there will not be security arrangements that will prevent the capturing of territory that Israel would be due to evacuate by Daesh or Hamas or both of them. It does not matter. We will determine that there is a state, without any conditions regarding recognition, security or anything. Of course this ensures that this conference will fail because if the Palestinians know that their demand will be met a priori, and they do not need to do anything, then there is certainly an internal contradiction here, because they will not do anything. There is one way to advance peace – direct negotiations without preconditions between the sides. This is the true way and I think that anyone who tries to deviate from it will not advance successful negotiations.

Regarding the EU, first of all I welcome the advancing of relations between us and the EU and its representative, Federica Mogherini. The truth is that I also received this advice from Chancellor Merkel and Minister Steinmeier, without conceding our basic interests, we stand on our positions. But I heard from Federica Mogherini several very clear things: First, they will not surprise us with further initiatives. Second, they are against BDS and boycotts. What they have determined does not relate to the setting of the permanent borders of the State of Israel in a future agreement. And, as has been noted, we stood on [our] interests. I must tell you that in regard to the plan, it was published that she spoke with me and with Abu Mazen about it – she did not discuss it with me. Therefore, I do not want to relate to hypotheticals. These are important matters. I think that they are important for the State of Israel and for a fair process. The State of Israel must be treated fairly. We are not the root of the problem in the Middle East; we are part of the solution. If Israel would not be there, the Middle East would be inundated. The entire western part of the Middle East would be flooded by the forces of radical Islam and many more millions would ride this flood to Europe. Israel is a defensive shield of Western civilization in the heart of the Middle East.

The NGO bill is one of transparency. It's not one of censorship; it's one of transparency. It says that if a government, a foreign government is assisting this or that NGO, it should be open and people should know about it. There are such laws in other countries, especially in the United States. No law is exactly analogous to the other, but that's the principle. And so what we want is mere transparency.

I've just been passed a note because I didn't know about this question with the journalist? I understand he was released, he was temporarily apprehended and released immediately. I was, I don't even know the details of this. But we are, believe me we do not arrest journalists. As I can personally attest to you, the press in Israel is robust, free, very energetic and free to say anything that it wants. And you know what? It does. That's not the case in our neighborhood, but it is the case in Israel and will continue to be the case in Israel.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs