March 22. 2023. 8:22

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Scholz chides Israeli government during Netanyahu’s visit

German chancellor Olaf Scholz did not shy away from criticising contentious projects pursued by Israel’s partially far-right government during a visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Berlin.

Heavily guarded by police forces, Netanyahu met with Scholz for bilateral talks in Berlin on Thursday during his first visit to Germany since being reelected in November 2022.

During a joint press conference after the meeting, Scholz stressed the partnership between the two countries but did not hide his disapproval regarding some of the steps taken by the coalition Netanyahu has been leading since the elections.

In particular, Scholz denounced the government’s much-criticised justice reform plans, which critics say would deprive the country’s top court of power and thus remove an important check from the political system.

“As democratic value partners and close friends of Israel, we are following this debate very closely – and I will not conceal this: with great concern,” Scholz told reporters after the meeting.

“Our wish is that our value partner Israel remains a liberal democracy,” he added.

Scholz’s reaction to the meeting with Netanyahu had been anticipated by the German public as a first indication of how Berlin will position itself vis-à-vis the new Israeli government – a balancing act between calling out worries of democratic backsliding on the one hand and showing adequate sensitivity regarding Germany’s historical guilt on the other.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, dismissed Scholz’s criticism. “Democracy in Israel is strong and alive; we will not deviate an inch from it,” he stressed.

(Julia Dahm |

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