Chancellor: Germans filled with shame over Holocaust

March 18, 2008 8:33:37 AM PDT
Germany's chancellor told Israel's parliament Tuesday that Germans are filled with shame over the Nazi Holocaust and that she bows before the victims. Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered the speech in German on the last day of an Israel visit marked by extraordinary warmth. Israel has given a red carpet welcome to Merkel, a strong supporter of the Jewish state. Merkel said Germany would always stand by Israel's side, singling out Iran as a particular threat.

Germany has been a key trading partner and one of Israel's staunchest allies, avoiding public criticism of the Jewish state even at times when others took Israel to task for its policies toward the Palestinians.

About 1,000 guests were attending Merkel's speech, including Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, former Israeli presidents, Holocaust survivors and residents of Israeli towns targeted by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel and Germany forged diplomatic ties in 1965, two decades after the end of World War II. As part of the new relations, Germany has paid $39.4 billion to Holocaust survivors in Israel over the past 40 years. About 250,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel today.

On Monday, the Israeli and German Cabinet ministers assembled for a joint session, signing off on a host of cooperative projects, including broadening the exchange of military officers and embarking on joint research projects, particularly in environmental protection.

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