Prime Minister Olmert and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin on Tuesday - after the two leaders held three hours of informal talks upon Olmert's arrival in Germany on Monday. Spokesmen for the prime minister said the unannounced meeting on Monday focused on the Iran issue and on the Palestinian Authority.
At a joint press conference following their Tuesday meeting, Merkel said that Germany firmly supported the Quartet demands that the Hamas-led PA government recognize Israel, renounce terror and uphold agreements with Israel signed by the previous PA administration. She also noted German efforts to gain the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from his Hamas captors, acknowledging that they have been unsuccessful.
Merkel said there was no military option that Germany was aware of to confront the Iranian ambition to develop nuclear weapons. International sanctions on the Iranian regime, on the other hand, will be discussed at the end of December in the UN Security Council, she said.
Chancellor Merkel strongly condemned the Iranian conference questioning the veracity of the Holocaust. "I would like to make clear that we reject with all our strength the conference taking place in Iran about the supposed nonexistence of the Holocaust," Merkel said at the press conference. Coincidentally, the Olmert-Merkel meeting was held the same day as the Iranian Holocaust denial convention.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Olmert attended a memorial ceremony at Berlin's Gruenwald train station, from which 50,000 Jews were shipped to Nazi death camps and ghettos during World War II. In his speech at the station, Olmert emphasized the importance of the State of Israel as an open harbor for any Jew, something the Holocaust-era Jews did not have.
Olmert went on to explain some of the lessons he feels the Jewish People have learned from the Holocaust:
"We have learned and memorized the lesson: the weak and defenseless are doomed. Doomed are they who do not believe those who threaten to eradicate them. Doomed are they who remain complacent and do not prepare themselves to thwart the danger. Doomed are they who entertain the false illusion that they could escape harm and that they could rely on the mercy of strangers."Olmert was ostensibly alluding to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has threatened to wipe out the State of Israel.
Amidst quotes from the poets Heinrich Heine and Avraham Shlonsky, Prime Minister Olmert concluded:
"This is the legacy of our six million dead: to do everything in our power to make certain that the Jewish State will be the complete and furthermost opposite of the Nazi evil; to base our nation on the eternal values of the Torah and the prophets of Israel, the freedom and dignity of man, social justice, human morality, the sanctity of life and the dedicated pursuit of peace."
Following his visit to Germany, Olmert was to travel to Rome for meetings with his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi and with Pope Benedict.