Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Thursday afternoon in Berlin.
Prior to the meeting, the two leaders held a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Holocaust at Platform 17 in Berlin together with Holocaust survivor Franz Michaelski and representatives of the German Jewish community.
The ceremony opened with a moment of silence, the placing of wreaths, and the lighting of a memorial flame by the Prime Minister and Chancellor. The Rabbi of Berlin, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtel, chanted the Kaddish prayer in memory of the six million victims, after which those present sang the Israeli national anthem.
In his speech, Chancellor Scholz voiced concern over the Israeli government's proposed judicial reforms and urged Netanyahu to adopt to compromise plan submitted last night (Wednesday) by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
He further noted his concern over recent violence in Judea and Samaria, and in a reference to the riots in Huwara which followed the murder of the Yaniv brothers in a terrorist shooting attack in the village, said that the responsibility for dealing with such attacks rests with the IDF, and "not with unbridled vigilante justice.”
Addressing the Iranian nuclear threat, which Netanyahu has stated is the main focus of his visit to Berlin, Scholz reiterated that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, but stated that “a diplomatic solution is our top priority” despite Iran's enrichment of uranium to 84% purity, close to the 90% purity required for a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu said that Israel would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, saying: "Israel will not allow another Holocaust. We will do whatever it takes to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, period."
Addressing the controversy over the judicial reforms, Netanyahu dismissed concerns that the reforms threatened democracy or the rule of law.
"The image that the reform will be a break from democracy is not true. I have helped liberalize Israel, and Israel will remain a liberal democracy," Netanyahu said.
'Israel is not about to abolish democratic principles. We are abolishing the principle of judges vetoing the appointment of judges. I am being cast as a potentate attempting to abolish democracy; this is not true. Israel's values will be proven over time. We are trying to balance the three branches of the government, with majority rule and minority rights. We will not abolish individual rights, we will solidify them. Israel was, is, and will remain a liberal society."
He also accused the opposition in Israel of refusing to negotiate on a compromise on the judicial reforms which would have a wide consensus, saying: "I have called many times fore discussion with the opposition, and have a been met with complete refusal. I think this shows that there is now real desire for compromise, and an attempt to bring new elections. That would be regrettable, but I will keep doing what is right for Israel, in keeping with the ideal of Israel as a liberal democracy."