Merkel addresses Knesset, hits out at Iran

March 19th, 2008 - 1:15 am ICT by admin  

Jerusalem, March 18 (DPA) It was Iran’s responsibility to convince the world that it was not building atom bombs, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday in the Israeli parliament. “The world must not prove to Iran that Iran is building an atom bomb. Iran must convince the world that it does not want a bomb,” Merkel said in an historic address to the Knesset.

She also expressed unequivocal support for Israel’s security.

Condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “repeated verbal abuse” of Israel, Merkel warned that if Iran obtained an atom bomb this would have “far-reaching consequences, first and foremost for the security and existence of Israel,” but also for the region, Europe and the entire world.

“Every German government and every German chancellor before me were committed to Germany’s special historic responsibility for Israel’s security,” she told the Knesset.

Merkel spoke in German, prompting some five Israeli legislators to boycott her address in protest. Her decision to speak in her own language was “insensitive” to Israel’s Holocaust survivors and their relatives, they complained.

But, opening her speech in Hebrew, Merkel - the first German chancellor or foreign head of government ever to address the Knesset - said it was a “great honour” for her to be invited to speak before the 120-member house.

The “mass murder” of six million Jews “in the name of Germany” was “without example,” and had caused “indescribable” suffering to the Jewish people, she said.

Earlier, Israel’s parliament speaker Dalia Itzik called on Germany to take the lead in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Welcoming Merkel to the Knesset, Itzik said every Israeli and every Jew throughout the world lived in the shadow of the Holocaust.

“And now, in these days, Iran is preparing weapons of mass destruction. Against who? Against what? My answer is, against us, for our destruction,” she said.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his address, also cited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying they represented “a grave danger to the stability of the Middle East and to the world.”

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