, Volume 91, Number 4

Lorena De Vita
This article marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel. It is divided into two parts, assessing the status of this unique relationship in 2015 and in 1965, respectively. Angela Merkel’s recent criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on the peace process with the Palestinians and the heavy protests that took place in Germany in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in summer 2014 have cast doubt on the strength of the bilateral partnership fifty years after the first exchange of ambassadors between the two countries. However, by examining the state of German–Israeli cooperation in a number of areas (security, commerce and knowledge exchange, among others), the first part of the article challenges popular interpretations of contemporary German–Israeli relations as being ‘at a nadir’. Fifty years ago, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard proposed to his Israeli counterpart Levi Eshkol the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries amid a severe political crisis in Bonn, following a visit of the East German leader Walter Ulbricht to Gamal Abdel Nasser. While much has changed since then, the second part of the article argues that looking at the momentous events of 1965 can provide useful reference points for understanding the current state of relations between Germany and Israel.

To read this article, you need to be a Chatham House member

Find out more about Chatham House membership