Horst Koehler was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon just days after the German president marked the 60th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. His presence in Jerusalem is for another anniversary – 40 years since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries.
There is talk of boosting trade ties and of close bonds, but visiting the Yad Vashem memorial, Koehler said relations would always be special, rooted in responsibility for the Holocaust. Several Israeli politicians are threatening to boycott the president’s speech at the Knesset today because Koehler will speak German.
Reports that Berlin is holding back on the sale of armoured cars to Israel for fear they could be used against Palestinians have done nothing to improve the mood.