Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Europe on Wednesday morning for official visits to the Czech Republic and Germany.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Czech Prime Minister Peter Necas in Prague and thank him for his country’s support of Israel in last Thursday’s vote in the UN General Assembly on the official status of the Palestinian Authority. The Czech Republic was one of only eight countries, and the only European nation, to vote with Israel against the upgrade of “Palestine” to nonmember observer state.
Netanyahu said that Israel and the Czech Republic are good friends and both know the value of standing up for their principles. According to the prime minister, “the history of Israel and the Czech Republic taught us to stand up for the truth, even when the majority is against us.”
Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, where they will sign cooperation agreements in the fields of counterterrorism, cyber-defense, science, agriculture and environmental protections.
Merkel is expected to admonish Netanyahu for his government’s decision to approve the construction of thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
A delegation of ministers and officials is traveling with the prime minister and members will hold a summit with their German counterparts.
Before his departure, Netanyahu thanked Germany for sticking up for Israel and defending its right to defend itself during last month’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense against terror targets in Gaza. He did not address Germany’s decision to abstain in last week’s UN vote.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was supposed to join Netanyahu on his trip, canceled his participation at the last minute,citing his need to oversee party affairs. Yisrael Beytenu named its Knesset slate on Tuesday, surprisingly omitting his deputy at the Foreign Ministry, Danny Ayalon.