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Merkel admits Germany's 'Holocaust shame'

  • Story Highlights
  • German Chancellor has told the Knesset of Germany's "Holocaust shame"
  • Angela Merkel became first German chancellor to address Israeli parliament
  • She called on Iran to prove it did not want the bomb
  • Merkel said she supports the two-state solution to the Mideast conflict
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israel of Germany's "Holocaust shame," and asserted its support for the Jewish state during an unprecedented speech to the Knesset on Tuesday.

Germany and Israel are linked "in a very special way" by the memory of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed under Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II, she said in the first address a German chancellor has ever made to the Knesset.

"The Holocaust fills us with shame," she said. "I bow my head before the survivors and I bow my head before you in tribute to the fact that you were able to survive."

Anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia "must never take root again in Germany or in Europe," she said, and vowed to battle any flare-ups.

Speaking to the Knesset, Angela Merkel also spoke of Germany's unwavering support for Israel calling the Iranian president's nuclear ambitions "a major danger" not only to Israel, but to the world as well. The German Chancellor called on him to prove that he does not want a nuclear bomb.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said his country's nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only, but Merkel told the Israeli parliament that he needs to provide clear evidence supporting that assertion.

"It is not the world that has to prove that Iran is building a bomb," she said. "Rather, Iran has to prove to the world that it does not want the nuclear bomb."

Ahmadinejad has also said Israel should not exist as a sovereign nation, but Merkel said Israel's right to exist is not open to negotiation. "These are not just empty words," she said, adding that Germany would support further sanctions on Iran if it fails to cooperate.

"What do we do when a majority says the greatest threat to the world comes from Israel and not from Iran?" she asked. "Do we bow our heads? Do we give up our efforts to combat the Iranian threat? However inconvenient and uncomfortable the alternative is, we do not do that."

"If we were to do that, then we would not have understood our historical responsibility, nor would we be able to properly develop a way to deal with the challenges of our day, and both options would be lethal."Video Watch German Chancellor Angela Merkel address the Knesset »

Merkel said she supports the two-state solution to the Mideast conflict, discussed last November by the key parties in Annapolis, Maryland. It calls for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in separate states.

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She called rocket attacks by Palestinians into Israel "a crime," and said they do nothing to solve the conflict.

But she noted that effecting a two-state solution would require "strength to make painful compromises." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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