Germany on Saturday said it was deeply troubled by anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and vowed to oppose “any unfair treatment” of the Jewish state in international fora.
The statement, issued on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s accession to the UN, was welcomed by Jerusalem’s envoy to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, who said he hoped it signals a change in Berlin’s voting pattern vis-a-vis the Middle East. Germany’s voting record on Middle East issues has been criticized by Israel and its supporters, as the country often joins other European nations in voting against Israel’s interest at the UN.
“Seventy years ago today — 24 years before the Federal Republic of Germany’s admission to the United Nations — Israel was admitted to the UN as a full member. The Federal Government would like to take this 70th anniversary as an opportunity to reiterate the fact that Germany stands at Israel’s side in the UN, too,” the English-language statement by Germany’s Foreign Office said.
“Germany’s historic responsibility for the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and its security is part of our raison d’être. Germany will always work, including in the UN, to ensure that Israel’s right to exist is never called into question.”
Berlin is “most concerned about the fact that, to this day, Israel continues to be criticized inappropriately, treated in a biased manner and marginalized in the bodies of the UN,” the statement went on.
The country, which currently is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, pledged “to oppose any unfair treatment of Israel in the UN and to support its legitimate interests. We will continue to do our utmost to support these causes,” according to the statement, which was based on a quote by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Germany’s support for “legitimate Israeli interests in the UN” is rooted in the country’s firm belief in the UN’s importance for the “multilateral, rules‑based order,” the statement continued.
Therefore, UN resolutions on the Middle East must constitute the “international framework” for efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the statement went on, in what could be a seen as a anticipatory rejection of the US administration’s long-awaited peace proposal.
“In its profound solidarity with the Jewish people and the State of Israel, Germany will continue to do its part in strengthening Israel’s representation in the UN,” the statement concluded.
Ambassador Issacharoff said Sunday that he welcomed the statement, expressing the hope that it is a “clear signal of determination in the context of ongoing efforts to improve Germany’s voting record and also enhance Israel’s standing and representation in UN fora.”
Germany’s voting pattern in United Nations fora is “very central to our agenda vis-a-vis the German government,” he said.
“We’ve had this discussion at a senior level for some time with our German counterparts and informed them that we hope to see changes in their voting pattern,” he told The Times of Israel in a recent interview.
There were times when the German government acted to improve the texts of some resolutions, “which was helpful,” he said.
“But in the end there is also the effort by Germany to fit in with the consensus at the EU. There are certain circumstances where we think Germany should disagree and take its own independent position. Ultimately the unique relationship between Israel and Germany should be reflected in the multilateral arena.”
The German statement was criticized by Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It will be nice if you stop interfering in our internal business and stop funding hundreds of radical left wing NGOs in Israel that seek its destruction,” he wrote on Twitter, in response the German Foreign Ministry’s tweet on the statement. “Use the hundreds of millions of [Euros] you use for this to fund hospitals, schools and churches in Germany!”
It will be nice if you stop interfering in our internal business and stop funding hundreds of radical left wing NGOs in Israel that seek its destruction. Use the hundreds of millions of € you use for this to fund hospitals, schools and churches in Germany!
— Yair Netanyahu ???????? (@YairNetanyahu) May 11, 2019
While Chancellor Angela Merkel over a decade ago declared Israel’s security to be part of Germany’s “raison d’etre,” Berlin routinely votes against Israel at the UN, including on the questions of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or West Bank settlements.
On March 14, the Bundestag voted on a declaratory resolution that called on the German government and the European Union to change its voting pattern in Israel’s favor.
Since it was proposed by an opposition party, the coalition parties voted against the resolution, which failed to pass. A whopping 408 MPs — including 224 from Merkel’s center-right Christian-Democratic Union — voted against the resolution, while 155 legislators, including nearly all members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, voted in favor.
Issacharoff said he was disappointed that the resolution was voted down by the Bundestag, but said it was a significant start to a broader public debate on this issue.
“It places the issue on the agenda, and we would hope that Germany will continue to reconsider their position on this issue.”