TEL AVIV – Following a meeting last week between German officials and Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (pictured) is slated to visit the German capital later this month, raising concerns about Israel’s ties with Berlin.
The upcoming visit has been kept under wraps by Berlin, The Jerusalem Post reported. The report cited the Islamic Republic’s transportation minister, Abbas Akhoundi, as confirming the visit in the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Even though Berlin has said it will not restore relations with the Islamic Republic until the latter recognizes Israel, a visit by Rouhani would be considered by Jerusalem as tantamount to normalizing ties, the Post said.
Martin Patzelt, a Bundestag deputy from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Taggespiegel he was concerned that the German public has been kept uninformed about the visit. “The federal government has to be questioned on why the visit has been kept secret while Iran’s government reports about it.”
Patzelt also raised questions about who the Iranian Intelligence Minister met with and what purpose “the intelligence head of one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships had for conducting talks.”
Taggespiegel reported that Alavi met with his German counterpart, Intelligence Commissioner Klaus-Dieter Fritsche.
In 2013, Alavi said Israel “belongs in the trash bin of history,” the Post reported.
According to the report, other Iranian officials have called for the destruction of Israel during visits to Berlin. At a Munich security conference in 2007, Ali Larijani, the head of Iran’s parliament, said the veracity of the Holocaust is an “open question.”
A member of Merkel’s party accused him of Holocaust denial – a crime in Germany – but German authorities did not follow through with a criminal charge against Larijani.
Ali Larijani’s brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who serves as head of the Iranian human rights council, made similar remarks a year later. During a German Foreign Ministry-sponsored event taking place near Berlin’s Holocaust memorial, the Iranian human rights minister denied that the Holocaust ever took place and called for Israel’s destruction.
Mohammad Larijani was at the event at the behest of German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier, who chose not to file a criminal complaint.
The Post cited German media reports as saying Steinmeier led the way in securing Rouhani’s visit to the capital.
Iran executed at least 37 people this past August, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. On September 8, the NGO wrote that “Mohammad Javad Larijani claimed Iran was doing members of the international community a favor by executing drug traffickers.”
The NGO quoted Larijani as saying, “Western countries should be thanking Iran because narcotics produced in Afghanistan end up in Paris, Berlin and Washington.”
“But instead of praising us, they are condemning us,” he added.