According to an Israeli diplomatic official, the Israeli government has complained to Germany after the German ambassador attended a prominent Supreme Court hearing last week examining the validity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial makeover.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen ordered the complaint to be submitted, and it led to a rare diplomatic conflict between the two allies, with German leaders defending their envoy from the accusations. The Israeli official claimed that Israel had communicated its “dismay” through diplomatic channels, including the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, while speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing behind-the-scenes diplomacy.
He continued, “This was a decision made by the highest figure in the ministry.” Netanyahu and Cohen are great friends.
The hearing on Tuesday was the first opposition to Netanyahu’s divisive judicial makeover, which has polarized the Israeli public and brought the nation dangerously close to a constitutional crisis.
The day before the hearing, the Hebrew hashtag for Israel’s Supreme Court was used in a video posted by German Ambassador Steffen Seibert on X, formerly known as Twitter, inside the courtroom with the caption: “The place to be this morning.”
He said in Hebrew, “I think something significant is happening here for Israeli democracy. Seibert said in the video, “We, as friends of Israel, are watching the Supreme Court with great interest, and I wanted to see for myself.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended the representative of his government in New York against criticism from Israel. “The German ambassador is a man of great commitment and unmistakable values, and I think everybody understands that, even in Israel,” Scholz told the press.
Monitoring developments in other nations is part of a diplomat’s “everyday business,” according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. He has to attend public hearings and court proceedings since it’s part of his work, she added.
On Tuesday, a meeting between Scholz and Netanyahu is planned outside of the United Nations. New York hosts the general assembly.