Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Historic Israel-Germany joint cabinet meeting,Merkel calls for more sanctions against Iran

(Haaretz).For the first time ever, the Israeli cabinet yesterday held a joint meeting with its German counterpart in Berlin, in what both parties called a "historic" move.

The joint meeting, one of the results of the upgrade in diplomatic relations between Berlin and Jerusalem two years ago, was held at noon at the chancellery, Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices in the German capital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accompanied on his visit to Berlin by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.

After the meeting, Israel and Germany signed cooperation agreements in the areas of science and environmental protection.

Prior to the joint cabinet meeting, both groups visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in downtown Berlin, which was cordoned off due to security concerns. Both Merkel and Netanyahu signed the museum's guest book.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with the German minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, and said the two signed an agreement to extend humanitarian aid to Africa.

(Ynet).Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday Germany would be preparing possible further sanctions against Iran in the weeks ahead if there was no change in Tehran's stance on its disputed nuclear energy program.

"Germany has made clear that if Iran's reaction does not change, we will be working on a comprehensive package of sanctions," Merkel said at a joint news conference in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Of course we would prefer it if these (sanctions) could be agreed within the framework of the United Nations Security Council," she said, adding that officials would be working on sanctions in the coming weeks.

"But Germany will take part in sanctions with other countries that are pursuing the same goal," she said.

Netanyahu went even further, saying the time had come to apply "crippling sanctions" against Iran over its nuclear program.

"If we don't apply sanctions, crippling sanctions against this Iranian tyranny, when shall we apply them? If not now, when? The answer is now," he said.