At a meeting with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Berlin, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed her concern about the changes planned in Israel’s judicial system. “One of the values that unites us is the protection of rule of law principles such as the independence of the judiciary. That was always a hallmark of Israel,” said Baerbock in the presence of Cohen. “I don’t want to hide the fact that we are worried abroad.”
Baerbock: Fundamental rights are “essentially minority rights”
The federal government is “firmly convinced that a strong democracy needs an independent judiciary that can also review majority decisions,” Baerbock continued. Fundamental rights are “essentially minority rights”. For weeks, nationwide demonstrations have been taking place in Israel against the change in the judicial system sought by the ultra-right government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The first parts of the bill have already been approved by the Knesset.
Among other things, the government should be given more influence in the selection of judges; In addition, Parliament should be able to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court with a simple majority in the future. Critics see this as an attack on the separation of powers in democracy.
“Out of deep conviction against the death penalty”
Germany’s foreign minister also expressed concerns about the possible introduction of the death penalty in Israel. The federal government is “out of deep conviction against the death penalty”, which is “not effective as a deterrent”. Israel, although it is threatened by terror like no other country, has only carried out the death penalty once in its history, emphasized the Green politician. “I am convinced that it would be a big mistake to break with this story.”
Israel’s ultra-right government introduced a corresponding draft law on Sunday. It should enable courts to “impose the death penalty on terrorists” in the future. The initiative is also very controversial in Israel. The country has used the death penalty only once in its history: in 1962, Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann was executed after a nine-month trial.
Baerbock also expressed concern about the increasing violence in the Middle East conflict. “Lately we’ve been seeing images of deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis at ever shorter intervals.” Her sympathy also applies to the victims of acts of revenge and vigilantism, the Greens politician continued. After a Palestinian attack in the West Bank, in which two Israelis were killed, Israeli settlers rioted on Sunday evening. One Palestinian was killed and hundreds injured. A 27-year-old Israeli-American citizen was then shot dead near Jericho on Monday evening, and the suspected Palestinian perpetrators were able to escape.
Cohen: Stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons
For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Cohen called on the German government to increase the pressure on Iran in the conflict over its nuclear program. “This is the time to act to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Cohen said at a joint press conference with Baerbock. “Germany must send a clear message, only strong action will produce strong results.” In this context, Cohen did not rule out a military option.
Baerbock stressed that she was concerned about the recent reports on the level of uranium enrichment in Iran. There is “no plausible civil justification whatsoever” for this. The Islamic Republic must not come into possession of an atomic bomb, the consequences of such an escalation would be devastating for the entire region.
Cohen also visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin and met with representatives of the Jewish community. It is his first visit since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing religious government took office in December.
EU concerned about violence in West Bank
The European Union, meanwhile, also expressed its concern at the recent deadly acts of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. According to a statement by the EU foreign authority EEAS in Brussels, violence and terror must be ended and the civilian population protected. The statement refers to the position of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who had called for immediate de-escalation measures from the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. All parties must “take immediate action to end this deadly cycle of violence and prevent further loss of life.” Furthermore, the perpetrators should be brought to justice.
sti/as/cw (afp, dpa, kna)