BERLIN, Feb 20: German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on her conservative Christian Democratic Union on Monday to make a clear statement recognising Israel’s right to exist and include it in the party manifesto.

Ms Merkel told a party meeting in Berlin that recent comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the destruction of the state of Israel underscored the need for a firm statement by the party.

In light of its responsibility for the Holocaust, Germany has made the defence of Israel’s right to exist a core tenet of its foreign policy in the post-war period under both conservative and left-wing governments. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1965.

Ms Merkel said it was time that her party explicitly included a statement in defence of Israel in its manifesto as well.

“We are confronted with completely new foreign and security policy challenges,” she said.

“We must preserve what has stood the test of time. But we have also seen that we do not have sound answers to a range of questions,” she said, referring to contentious issues facing the West and the Muslim world.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who is pursuing a disputed nuclear program, has dismissed the killing of Jews in World War II as a myth and called for the state of Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’. —AFP

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