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March 2, 2020 1:12 pm
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German Politician Widely Tipped as Next Federal Chancellor Pledges Support for Israel During Visit to Jerusalem

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Leading German politician Armin Laschet lays a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun.

The German politician increasingly tipped to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany’s Chancellor pledged to crack down on rising antisemitism in his country during a visit to Israel on Monday.

Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state — which includes the major cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Bremen — said that while it was Germany’s goal to ensure the security of the State of Israel, “guaranteeing the security of Jews in Germany” was no less important.

At a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Laschet declared himself “ashamed that we experience [antisemitism] again in Germany 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.”

Rivlin meanwhile praised Laschet as a “great friend of Israel.”

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Laschet’s visit also included a stop at Yad Vashem — Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem — where he laid a wreath in honor of the victims of the Nazis.

Later on Monday, Laschet traveled to Tel Aviv for the opening of an official North Rhine-Westphalia officer in Tel Aviv focused on technological exchange between startups in Israel and the western German state, the fourth most populous in the country.

Laschet also met in Jerusalem with the grandchildren of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion and the former Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer. The two leaders developed a personal friendship during the early days of Israel-Germany relations in the 1950s.

Laschet, a member of Germany’s governing CDU Party, announced his candidacy for the federal chancellor’s post last week. The CDU will hold a special conference on April 25 to vote on a successor to Merkel, who has said that she will step down from her role in 2021.

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