German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated during a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that discussions to reintroduce the nuclear accord have entered “extremely important weeks.”
Merkel joined a special cabinet meeting following a morning meeting with Bennett one-on-one.
The Chancellor urged power countries to play a stronger role in bringing Iran back to the bargaining table in Vienna. She emphasized that each day that passes without an agreement, Iran enriches uranium.
US and European negotiators working on the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal are still waiting for Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi to resume discussions in Vienna, which have been stalled since June.
“I see a responsibility for Russia and China here,” she said, adding that Israel’s security will be a top priority for “every German government.”
“Iran’s nuclear program is a most advanced point ever,” Bennett stated at the start of the extraordinary cabinet meeting at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. “The world waits, the Iranians delay, and the centrifuges spin.”
Bennett emphasized the danger that Iran’s nuclear program poses to the world and stated that Israel would do all possible to prevent Tehran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
Bennett stated that Iran had taken a “colossal leap forward” in its ability to enrich uranium over the last three years.
In a press conference following the cabinet meeting, Bennett noted that Iran already supports armed proxy organizations across the Middle East without possessing a nuclear weapon: “One can only imagine the damage they will cause if the world knows that behind this thuggery stands a nuclear weapon as well.”
“A nuclear weapon in the hands of such a radical, violent regime will change the face of the region and of the world,” Bennett concluded. “For us, it is not a strategic problem. It is an existential problem.”
Bennett said that “accepting Iran as a state on the verge of nuclear capability will become a moral stain on the free world, and will also jeopardize world peace.”
Iranians view Western attempts at reconciliation as a sign of weakness, he added, arguing that Tehran is stalling in order to continue enriching uranium and undermining regional stability.
“This is a watershed moment, and Germany’s position is vital.”
In answer to a question regarding the future Palestinian state, Bennett said. “We are not neglecting the Palestinians. They are our next-door neighbors. They are not going anywhere, and neither are we.”
He added “at the same time, we have learned from history that establishing a Palestinian state increases the likelihood that a terrorist state will emerge seven minutes from my home…
“I am a very pragmatic individual. We are conducting a series of initiatives on the ground to make life simpler for everyone, Jews and Arabs alike, in Judea and Samaria and Gaza,” he said, referring to the West Bank’s Judea and Samaria region.
Merkel had no intentions to meet former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently the opposition leader. Additionally, she was not slated to meet with West Bank Palestinian leaders.
The 67-year-old Merkel is now leading a caretaker administration in the aftermath of national elections until a new government is established. She also visit Yad Vashem and meet with Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs and leaders.
Merkel, the trained physicist will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Haifa’s Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.
Bennett referred to Merkel as a “loving friend of Israel” in a joint statement released before their private meeting, and asserted that under Germany’s outgoing chancellor, ties between the two nations were better than they had ever been.
Bennett continued by stating that Merkel’s leadership “laid the ground for Germany’s continued support to Israel’s security, which we much respect.”
“I want to take this occasion to underscore that Israel’s security will always be a priority for me and for every German administration,” Merkel stated.
Regarding the Holocaust, she stated she considers it “a stroke of good fortune bestowed upon us by history that it has been possible to reset and repair relations between Germany and Israel to the level that we have.”