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Merkel arrives in Israel for farewell visit as chancellor

Outgoing German leader set to meet with cabinet and hold discussion with PM on regional issues, including Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at Ben Gurion Airporty on her farewell visit to Israel, on October 9, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/Foreign Ministry)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at Ben Gurion Airporty on her farewell visit to Israel, on October 9, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/Foreign Ministry)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in Israel Saturday night, ahead of a day of meetings with Israel’s leadership in her farewell visit as chancellor.

Merkel was greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by top Foreign Ministry officials.

The major Route 1 highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was briefly closed off as Merkel traveled from the airport to the capital. Some road closures were expected in Jerusalem throughout Sunday.

Merkel, who is currently leading a caretaker government following national elections until a new government is formed, will meet with the Israeli cabinet, visit Yad Vashem and meet Israeli high-tech leaders and entrepreneurs.

The 67-year-old trained physicist is also to receive an honorary doctorate from Haifa’s Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to discuss with the German leader regional challenges and threats, among them Iran.

The chancellor was originally slated to visit Israel in late August, but canceled amid the upheaval surrounding the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Kabul airport attack.

That visit was called off in consultation with Bennett “because of current developments in Afghanistan,” Merkel’s office said in a statement at the time. Germany was among the countries scrambling to evacuate from Kabul their own nationals and Afghans who helped their forces during a nearly two-decade deployment in the country.

Throughout her 16 years in power, Merkel, who most recently visited the Jewish state in 2018, has described Israel’s national security as a crucial priority of German foreign policy due to the country’s historical responsibility for the Holocaust.

AFP contributed to this report.

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