Diplomacy, painful history for Netanyahu in Berlin





Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Berlin on Thursday was to include talks on the modern-day Mideast conflict as well as acknowledgment of the painful history that ties Germany with the Jewish state created in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust...

... The subject of settlements was sure to be raised at Netanyahu's meeting with Merkel on Thursday. Speaking Wednesday, German government spokesman Klaus Vater said that Berlin advocates that "no further settlements be built in the occupied areas."

Netanyahu's discussions with Merkel will also touch on Iran's nuclear program, which Israel sees as an existential threat and wants blocked by stronger international sanctions.

But a visit by an Israeli leader to Germany is never limited to current events. Between meetings with Merkel and the German foreign minister, Netanyahu was scheduled to visit the Wannsee House, site of a key meeting at which the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jews. And he was to visit the headquarters of a Berlin publisher to see the recently discovered blueprints for Auschwitz, the Nazis' infamous death camp in Poland.

Netanyahu is accompanied on his trip by Yossi Peled, an Israeli Cabinet minister who was hidden in Belgium by Christian parents after his parents were killed by the Nazis. Peled discovered he was Jewish at age 7, in 1948 _ the year Israel was founded _ and later moved there, eventually becoming a general in the armed forces.

Germany and Israel eventually overcame their fraught relationship to forge close ties, with West Germany paying reparations in the 1950s that helped Israel's early leaders build their country's infrastructure and military.

Netanyahu arrived in Berlin from London, where he met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell.

His meeting with Mitchell appeared to have been inconclusive, with a joint statement afterward saying only that "good progress" was made.


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