The German Chancellor is visiting Israel on a planned trip before fighting breaks out between Russia and Ukraine
Scholz arrived in Israel on Tuesday evening and will return to Germany later on Wednesday on a visit – his first to Israel since becoming German leader – that was planned before fighting broke out. He visited the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the two were due to hold a press conference later in the day.
His visit comes as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues for a seventh day and Western countries have rallied against the incursion.
The war brought about historic changes in Germany’s defense policy. The German government said on Saturday it would send anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine – abandoning its longstanding refusal to export arms to conflict zones in a historic break with its foreign policy after the Second World War.
Berlin also announced it was committing 100 billion euros to a special fund for its armed forces, raising defense spending above 2% of GDP – a move it had long lagged behind.
In the decades following the Holocaust, during which Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews, Germany and Israel became staunch allies. The countries’ cabinets hold regular joint sessions, and Germany is Israel’s most important trading partner in the European Union.
But Germany, like much of Europe, is at odds with Israel over the Palestinian issue. Germany has called for a Palestinian state alongside Israel and opposes Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank. Germany is also among the world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.