Jerusalem (dpa) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said goodbye to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on Thursday. “Dear Ruvi, your term is over, our friendship remains,” Steinmeier said at the end of an emotional speech. Rivlin said smiling “thank you” in German before the two hugged. During his speech, Steinmeier described how his friendship had evolved.
Steinmeier also said that the latest armed conflict between Israel and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, showed “that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not calmed down in any way.” He believes there is no alternative to a long-term two-state solution. Currently, however, he considers it important to set a minimum level of trust between the two parties. He also said he intends to talk to the new Israeli government about it.
Steinmeier said Germany and Israel agree that Iran’s nuclear weapons should be avoided and that the only differences of opinion are on the right way to achieve them.
Rivlin praised Steinmeier as a close friend. He said it was of great symbolic importance that the German president was the last head of state he would receive and that Germany, led by Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel, had been an important partner in the fight against anti-Semitism. His friendship with Steinmeier was “proof that relations between peoples are based on personal meetings.”
Later, Steinmeier also wanted to meet Isaac Herzog, who has already been elected Rivlin’s successor, for lunch. The German president will also speak in Jerusalem with the new Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, and foreign minister Jair Lapid.
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