Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has been received with military honours in Berlin. He was welcomed by his German counterpart Joachim Gauck at the capital’s Schloss Bellevue presidential palace.
The visit celebrates 50 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries. It coincided with an announcement by the Israeli Defence Ministry that the government had bought four German-made corvette warships. The vessels will help secure Israel’s Mediterranean gas rigs, according to the Ministry. Berlin is said to have heavily subsidised the deal.
On the eve of the May 12 anniversary, Rivlin visited the ‘Gleis 17’ memorial at Grunewald Station. It marks the spot from where some 50,000 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
“Democracy alone does not make us immune to nationalism and fascism,” said Rivlin. “No nation is immune to anti-Semitism. Here, on Platform 17, we must commit to look hatred in the eye.”
He is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on day of the anniversary, with a key topic of discussion expected to be the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Merkel said:
“I am very pleased that the Israeli president is visiting Germany to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. In Germany, we believe the two-state solution is the way to achieve lasting peace in the region.”
Merkel has long advocated such a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Rivlin, however, has repeatedly stated he is firmly against it.