Germany’s outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel will tour Israel’s national Holocaust memorial on Sunday and hold talks with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in her final official visit to the country after 16 years in power.
Merkel, making her eighth visit to Israel since taking office in 2005, is expected to lay a wreath at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem memorial in homage to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.
German governments have made strong relations with Israel a top priority ever since World War Two, and Merkel has sought to boost bilateral security and economic ties. Germany is one of Israel’s top trading partners.
Bennett is expected to pay tribute to Merkel as he hosts her during a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday morning at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. Merkel, a 67-year-old trained physicist, will also receive an honorary doctorate later on Sunday from Haifa’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in northern Israel.
Merkel had planned to conduct the visit in late August, but cancelled it citing the tense situation in Afghanistan as the United States, Germany and others evacuated personnel ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Following an inconclusive Sep. 26 election, Germany’s Social Democrats are currently courting smaller parties to form a coalition that would replace a conservative grouping led by Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
Merkel plans to step down once a new government is formed.