Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck seemed to hold back tears as he laid a wreath in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Hall of Remembrance.
He knelt down, straightened the ribbons and then wrote a poem in the guestbook commemorating the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis. It was a poem by Paul Celan, whose parents died in a camp in Transnistria, where his mother was shot and his father succumbed to typhus.
Habeck, who spent two hours touring the memorial, said he had always been fascinated by the language of Celan’s poems, which boiled everything down to the essentials. “Thank you so much for letting me be here,” he said softly to his hosts, his voice wavering. Habeck holds a doctorate. in philosophy and is an author of children’s books – at home he is well known for his emotional reactions and is often applauded for having a particular way with words.
By this time, the real purpose of the Green Party politician’s trip seemed all but forgotten. He travels to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan to promote environmental protection in a region so hot and dry that it can catch fire – also in the political sense.
A wide range of problems
Habeck began his four-day trip on Monday, holding talks with Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. It is remarkable that these meetings took place. Bennett’s eight-party coalition is currently going through a serious crisis; the head of government is under constant pressure.
Unlike in early March, when Habeck traveled to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to secure more gas for Germany in a bid to replace energy imports from Russia, securing the additional energy supply was not the focus of discussions in Israel.
Israel plans to build a gas pipeline to transport gas from the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean to Europe via Turkey. But that wouldn’t help Germany in the short term, Habeck said: “An investment that will be ready in seven or nine years is actually superfluous. After all, we want – and expect – to move away from fossil fuels by then. In the long term, cooperation with the states of the Middle East and North Africa in the energy sector will be based on renewable energies.”
The Middle East is already suffering the consequences of the climate crisis. Jordan, for example, is considered one of the driest regions in the world. The objective of the German economy minister is to bring Israeli high-tech industry closer to European capital.
But despite the best conditions for producing solar energy, for example, countries in the region are only just beginning to harness the energy of the wind and the sun. Only 7% of Israel’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Now, the Israeli government is preparing to increase this share to 30% by 2030 and has launched energy cooperation with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Habeck also sees opportunities for German companies to get involved here.
Robert Habeck Habeck also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtajjeh to discuss economic aid and ongoing political tensions.
Habeck is in the region not only as Minister for Economics and Climate Protection, but also as German Vice Chancellor. Thus, his political talks in Israel also briefly touched on the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine, in an attempt to explore options for mediation between Moscow and Kyiv. “My interlocutors here stressed that their position is that a war illegal under international law is unacceptable. But they also stressed that Israel has a wide range of ties with Russia and that all diplomatic avenues are considered,” did he declare. after the talks. Adding that any diplomatic effort could only begin once the fighting was over.
This article was originally written in German.
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