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Germany’s top leadership on Monday rushed to the defense of Berlin’s Ambassador to Israel after he was lambasted by the Israeli government for allegedly interfering in the Jewish state’s internal politics.

The ambassador, Steffen Seibert, attended a critical Supreme Court hearing in Jerusalem last Tuesday concerning the controversial “reasonableness law” that is currently being advanced by Israel’s ruling right-wing coalition as part of its judicial overhaul package. Seibert posted a video of himself saying that he believed “something important is happening here for Israeli democracy, and we, as friends of Israel, are also looking with a lot of interest towards the Supreme Court, and I wanted to see for myself.”

As a result, Israel lodged a formal protest against Seibert, who previously served as the spokesperson for the former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“Following a directive by [Foreign Minister Eli] Cohen, a senior official spoke to Ambassador Seibert and voiced our protest on the matter. Similar messages were conveyed by the embassy in Berlin to the German Foreign Ministry,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the German broadcaster DW.

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However, a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that no official complaint had been received from the Israelis.

Strong backing for Seibert was nonetheless voiced by Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and its Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, both of whom are currently visiting New York for the annual UN General Assembly.

“The German ambassador is a very committed man with very clear principles. And I believe that everyone knows that — including in Israel,” Scholz said.

Baerbock separately pointed out that it is “the everyday business of diplomats to keep abreast of developments in different countries. It’s also normal for us to go to public hearings or public trials. That’s why it’s part of his job.”

Germany has expressed concern in the recent past over the Israeli government’s widely protested plans to overhaul the country’s judicial branch. “We abroad are concerned about some Israeli legislative plans,” Baerbock said at a joint press conference with Cohen, her Israeli counterpart, last February. “The values that bind us together include the protection of principles of the rule of law such as judicial independence. This was always a hallmark of Israel.”

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