From: Deutsche Welle

Germany | 05.05.2006
Merkel: Israel’s Right to Exist “Must Never be Questioned”

Speaking at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) annual meeting in
Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced Iran and the
Palestinian militant group Hamas for questioning Israel’s right to exist.

“The right of existence of the state of Israel must never be questioned,”
Merkel said at a gala event in Washington celebrating the 100th anniversary
of the influential American Jewish Committee. “This is why it is intolerable
for any German government when the Iranian president questions the right of
Israel’s existence.”

She was referring to stepped up anti-Israeli rhetoric by Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last fall, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off
the map.” Merkel also said that Tehran must not be allowed to develop
nuclear weapons.

Urged to reject violence
The German chancellor, who was joined at the event by US President Bush and
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, also recalled the horrors of the Holocaust
and pledged that her country would remain committed to fighting
anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.

She urged the new Palestinian government led by Hamas to “reject violence
and acknowledge without ambiguity Israel’s right to exist.” The decision
lies with Hamas,” Merkel said. “And it will have to answer to the
Palestinian people for its policies.”

Merkel was the first German chancellor to address the Jewish body which was
founded in 1906 by American Jews concerned about the repression of Jews in
Russia.

Bush said that the United States has an “unshakeable” commitment to defend
Israel and pledged that his administration would have no contact with the
militant Palestinian group Hamas so long as it refuses to recognize the
Jewish state.

“America’s commitment to Israel’s security is strong, enduring and
unshakeable,” Bush said. He added that the United States and Israel were
“natural allies and these ties will never be broken.”

No nukes for Iran
Merkel said the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program was of great
cause for concern and added that it was essential for the international
community to stand together on the issue.

“Iran must be prevented from getting nuclear weapons,” she told her audience
of some 2,500 Jewish leaders, US politicians and diplomats. “We need to
stand together and show a united front.”

Bush said the United States was “concerned because the Iranian regime is
repressing its people, sponsoring terrorists, destabilizing the region,
threatening Israel and defying the world with its ambitions for nuclear
weapons.”

Bildunterschrift: GroÃYansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Bush
and Merkel avoided topics of discord such as the secret CIA rendition
flights or Guantanamo Bay

“American will continue to rally the world to confront these threats,” he
said.
The United States is leading a bid to make the UN Security Council take
action against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington and its
allies fear hides an attempt to make an atomic bomb. Iran insists its
program is for civilian purposes.