Boycott threat as German president readies to address Israeli parliament (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 02/02/05 7:11 AM ET)
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JERUSALEM (AFP) - German President Horst Koehler was to address the
Israeli parliament in celebration of 40 years of diplomatic ties
despite the threat of a boycott by MPs at the prospect of German
being spoken on the floor of the Knesset.
Koehler, on the second day of a four-day visit, was expected to
underline Germany´s "particular moral responsibility" toward Israel
during his speech which his office said would be made in his native
While Germany has become one of Israel´s strongest allies since they
forged ties, the depth of feeling over Koehler´s speech has served to
underline the complex nature of the relationship 60 years on from the
end of the Nazi regime.
The deputy speaker of the chamber, Hemi Doron, was one of the
deputies who threatened a boycott, saying it "would be impossible for
me to listen to this language from within the walls of the parliament
of the Jewish people".
Doron´s grandfather was one of at least six million Jews killed
during the Nazi era.
Health Minister Danny Naveh was also likely to stay away from the
chamber, given what he has called the "inappropriate" use of German.
The speaker of parliament, Reuven Rivlin, said Wednesday that both he
and Koehler understood the sensitivity of the issue as he urged
Germany not to be too hasty in banishing memories of its past.
"This country which is now strong and sure of itself must not be too
quick to shake off the shadows of its past," Rivlin said. "Do not
think that we have forgotten or that the world has forgotten."
The first day of Koehler´s state visit saw him visit Jerusalem´s Yad
Vashem Holocaust memorial on Tuesday as well as hold talks with his
Israeli counterpart Moshe Katsav and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The sensitivity of Koehler´s visit is heightened by its timing, just
days after the anniversary at the Auschwitz death camp, where more
than 1.1 million people died, most of them Jews from countries in
Koehler told his hosts on Tuesday that Germany would never stint in
its fight against anti-Semitism as Sharon expressed fears about what
Israel regards as a growth of anti-Jewish feeling in Europe.
"We understand the new political forces but Europe must invest more
in the struggle against anti-Semitism," said Sharon.
Koehler said: "The relationship between our two countries will always
be something special ... The Germans will always have a special
responsibility for Israel and its people." (Copyright © 2005 Agence
France Presse. 02/02/05)
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