German president applaudsIsrael on Gaza withdrawal

15th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 September 2004 , BERLIN - German President Horst Koehler on Wednesday applauded Israeli plans withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, calling the decision a "courageous step", while also citing the rising Jewish population in Germany as being a vote of confidence in the country. Koehler sent a message to Israeli President Moshe Katsav on the occasion of the Jewish New Year festivities of Rosh Hashana saying that the Germans hoped that peoples' yearnings for security and peace would be fulfilled. "We hope with

15 September 2004

BERLIN - German President Horst Koehler on Wednesday applauded Israeli plans withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, calling the decision a "courageous step", while also citing the rising Jewish population in Germany as being a vote of confidence in the country.

Koehler sent a message to Israeli President Moshe Katsav on the occasion of the Jewish New Year festivities of Rosh Hashana saying that the Germans hoped that peoples' yearnings for security and peace would be fulfilled.

"We hope with you that the courageous step of the planned withdrawal from Gaza will be a first, but important, step on the path towards peaceful coexistence," Koehler said in his message to Katsav.

On Tuesday, Israel's security cabinet in a 9-1 vote approved a range of proposals governing the pullout of settlers from the Gaza Strip under Israel's withdrawal plan, including compensation measures.

Under the withdrawal plan, Israel will evacuate its 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank.

The new German president, who took office on 1 July, also said the growing Jewish population in Germany was a sign of trust in the country and its people.

"Everyone in Germany has the duty not to betray this trust," he said in his message to Katsav.

Koehler noted that next year will be the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. On the occasion, a monument will be dedicated in Berlin to the European Jews who were murdered.

"We will thereby be demonstrating that violence and intolerance may have no chance in our society," he said.

Koehler praised the Jewish community in Germany as being worthy of respect and recognition. "I would like to encourage you to actively help to shape the process of social changes in Germany."

His comments about rising Jewish numbers in Germany come against the backdrop of a strong increase in immigration of Jews to the country, particularly from Russia and other Eastern European states. The Jewish population is now more than 100,000, as against about 30,000 when the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989.

Under a law put in place by then chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1990, Jews from the former East Bloc are allowed to immigrate to Germany and are the only group given this special right other than ethnic Germans from eastern Europe.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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