Germany will begin offering consular services to Israeli citizens in countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, according to the terms of an agreement expected to be signed when Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Jerusalem on Monday.
Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, Israel’s envoy in Berlin, called the offer “a special message” from the German government and said it was indicative of the importance of the relationship between the two countries, according to Reuters.
Merkel and her entire cabinet are due in Israel next week for a high-profile visit that will include the largest bilateral government consultations in Israel’s history. However, the trip, which officially kicks off the preparations for next year’s celebration of 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, is being overshadowed by reports of the worst crisis in diplomatic ties since Merkel took office nearly 10 years ago.
The chancellor will arrive in Israel on Monday evening and leave about 24 hours later. Her entire cabinet — consisting of 15 federal ministers — is confirmed to join her for the so-called G2G (government to government) consultations that will take place in Jerusalem.
The confab is taking place despite uncharacteristically tense relations between the two countries of late.
Diplomatic relations have actually reached a “nadir,” according a report in Der Spiegel, Germany’s most important weekly news magazine.
“Recent years have seen several instances of tension between Germany and Israel. [Merkel and Netanyahu] have even shouted at each other on the telephone while discussing Israeli policies toward Palestinians,” Der Spiegel’s Ralf Neukirch wrote this week. “But relations between the two countries have never been as difficult during Merkel’s three terms in office as they are now.”
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.