Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following her recent announcement that she will not seek reelection, thanking her for contributing to Israel’s security.
“We’ll continue to work together in order to advance our shared goals,” Netanyahu told the German leader, according to a statement from his office.
Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, announced last month she would not seek a fifth term as chancellor and would step down as chairwoman of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) when it selects a new leader in December.
Her announcement came after the CDU and its Bavarian sister party suffered a series of setbacks in state elections, further eroding her already shaky authority following the electoral alliance’s poor showing in the 2017 national elections.
Though Merkel remains personally popular, many analysts believe she will struggle to hold onto to the chancellery until 2021, when the next nationwide vote is scheduled.
During her over 13-year tenure as chancellor, Merkel has stressed Germany’s commitment to Israel and to combating anti-Semitism in light of the Holocaust and also partially subsidized Israeli purchases of German-made submarines.
She has, however, found herself at odds with Netanyahu on a number of issues, including West Bank settlement construction and the international deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
Merkel met last month with Netanyahu during a trip to Jerusalem, where she reiterated Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security and said she agrees with Netanyahu about the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities. At the same time, she said Jerusalem and Berlin disagree on the best way to achieve their common goal.
Germany is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe and for the past few decades has been one of its strongest allies. Israel was established three years after the end of World War II, and the German government has paid billions in reparations to Holocaust survivors and positioned itself as a leader in combating anti-Semitism.
Agencies contributed to this report.