Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein met on Monday with the President of the German Bundesrat, Stanislaw Tillich, who is also the Minister-President of Saxony. During the meeting at the Knesset, Edelstein spoke of his recent visit to Germany as the head of an official Knesset delegation. ”On behalf of the members of the delegation, I can say that the relations with Germany are special, without forgetting the past, while working for a better future.”
”The meetings in Germany showed us that we are on the right track, and when someone asked me after the visit what makes me think so, I said the reason is that we are able to conduct free and open dialogue… we are no longer at a place where we need to constantly be careful not to strike a nerve. We do not necessarily agree on everything, but Germany proves time and again that it stands by Israel, during the good times and the bad,” Edelstein told Tillich.
Tillich, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, which is headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, noted that during their visit to Israel he and members of his delegation learned that Israel constantly has to fight for freedom and democracy, and stressed the need for ”open dialogue between friends.”
The Bundesrat president addressed the German parliament`s decision to provide military support to France and other countries fighting ISIS, saying the decision to would spark a debate in Germany due to the country`s ”unsuccessful” intervention in Afghanistan. Edelstein mentioned that Merkel told him that Germany would by no means put ”boots on the ground” in Syria as part of the campaign against ISIS.
”On the one hand, [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has shown that he is a butcher, but on the other hand, those who challenge him are ISIS and other terror organizations,” the Knesset speaker said. ”There is a terrible dilemma here – which side to support; but is very clear that we must fight ISIS, because, as the attacks in Paris have taught us, if we do not pursue them, they will pursue us.”
Tillich addressed the refugee crisis in Europe and said the fact that the refugees come from a different cultural background makes it more difficult for Germany to deal with the phenomenon. He called to increase the financial investment in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries in order to improve the living conditions there and thus contain the flow of refugees to Europe. Speaker Edelstein said improving living conditions in the refugee camps would not stop young, able-bodied refugees of working age from seeking a better life in countries that could offer them more opportunities.
Edelstein also spoke about the European Commission`s decision to approve the labelling of Israeli goods made in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, and said his German counterparts were surprised by the Knesset delegation`s ”somewhat undemocratic” approach to the topic. ”I told my colleagues in Germany: `If I decide to follow the [EC`s] decision and immediately get rid of the Golan Heights, to whom exactly in Syria would I transfer it to? I was pleased to hear my colleague, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, say that the decision was not exactly wise,” the Knesset speaker said, while noting that the majority of Knesset members oppose the decision to label Israeli products.
The Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, represents the sixteen federal states of Germany at the national level. The President of the Bundesrat is fourth in the order of precedence after the Federal President, the President of the Bundestag, the Chancellor and before the President of the Federal Constitutional Court. By tradition, the presidency rotates annually among the minister-presidents of each of the federal states.