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Germany 'proud' of ties with Israel, says Bundestag's Lammert

Berlin will host an international conference on anti-Semitism next year, the speaker of the Bundestag has told Israel's parliament. Norbert Lammert's visit to Jerusalem marks 50 years of German-Israel diplomatic ties.

Lammert told the Knesset on Wednesday that the 2016 Berlin conference would be an event of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), a grouping of parliamentarians from around the world.

Referring to

recent acts of hostility toward Jews

across Europe, Lammert (pictured left) said anti-Semitism, wherever it occurred, was "not acceptable." He went on to say that "in Germany it is unbearable," given the Holocaust perpetrated between 1933 and 1945 by Hitler's regime.

Konrad Adenauer und David Ben-Gurion 1960 in New York

Ben Gurion and Adenauer met in New York in 1960

Lammert said it was a "miracle of history" that friendly relations, initiated by Israel's founder David Ben Gurion and post-war West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, had led to

formal diplomatic ties in 1965.

Israeli-German ties would remain "intensive" but could never be regarded as normal, given the past trauma inflicted by Hitler's Germany on the Jews of Europe, said Lammert, who as Bundestag president chairs regular sessions of Germany's parliament in Berlin.

Proud, twin-city ties

Present-day Germany was proud of its close partnership and friendship with Israel, said Lammert, adding that "magical" interest was shown by the youth of both countries in making

reciprocal visits.

Further positive signs, Lammert said, were some 100 twin-city partnerships between Israel and Germany.

Referring to the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts in the Middle East, Lammert said: "Much is negotiable, but the existential right of Israel is not."

Negotiation remained necessary to resolve conflicts, he said, so that a "stable, peaceful, democratically organized" Palestinian state emerged and necessary to ensure Israel's long-term security interests are considered, he added.

Israel had the "right to live like its neighbors in internationally recognized borders, free of fear," he said.

Fourth German politician to address Knesset

Lammert, who drew the Knesset's applause when he began his speech in Hebrew, became only the fourth German politician to address Israel's parliament.

The past speakers were the late German President Johannes Rau, former President Horst Köhler, Chancellor Angela Merkel and, most recently, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Israel Norbert Lammert Knesset Jerusalem

Edelstein and Lammert sign deal to intensify ties

Just before his speech, Lammert signed an agreement with his Knesset counterpart Yuli Edelstein to intensify contacts by holding a yearly Israeli-German parliamentary forum.

Edelstein (pictured right) described Lammert, who first visited Israel as a young parliamentarian in 1981, as a "friend of Israel from the heart and soul."

Present in the chamber were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli head of state President Reuven Rivlin.

High-level German delegation

Germany's visiting delegation, comprising Lammert, four other members of the Bundestag's presidium, and the chairman of the German-Israel parliamentary group, Volker Beck, is due to remain in Israel until Friday.

They are scheduled to visit the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and the town of Ramla, which is regarded as exemplary for coexistence between Jewish and Arabic Israelis.

ipj/sms (AFP, KNA, dpa, Phoenix)

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