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Netanyahu in Germany Amid Tensions at Home, Iran Worries

BERLIN — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting Germany’s leaders Thursday on an abbreviated visit that comes in the shadow of tensions over his government’s planned overhaul of Israel’s judicial system and worries about Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu has meetings scheduled with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s largely ceremonial president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on his one-day trip to Berlin.

The prime minister’s office has said he cut the length of his visit in half because of the security situation in Israel. He delayed his departure from Israel on Wednesday as the country’s figurehead president prepared to unveil a compromise proposal for overhauling the legal system, an approach that Netanyahu rejected.

German officials have voiced concern about the Israeli government’s plan, which would allow parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions and give Netanyahu’s parliamentary coalition the final say over all judicial appointments.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said when her Israeli counterpart visited last month that “the protection of principles of the rule of law such as judicial independence … was always a hallmark of Israel.”

Protests against the overhaul are planned in Berlin, though not near Netanyahu, whose visit is taking place under the customary heavy security.

Germany and Israel, which traditionally are close allies, share concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities. Netanyahu has threatened military action against Iran’s nuclear program as it enriches uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.

Germany is one of the world powers that entered a tattered 2015 deal with Tehran to address concern about its nuclear ambitions. Baerbock has stressed the importance of “preventing a nuclear escalation by Iran by diplomatic means, because every alternative would be disastrous.”

Source: AP News