Faymann first state chief to visit Israel after ‘ship attack’

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann’s visit to Israel will be the first of the head of state since the violent incident on an international aid ship last month.Nine activists were killed and dozens injured when Israeli soldiers captured the Mavi Marmara in international waters. The incident sparked worldwide outcry and sharp criticism of Israel’s policies regarding the Gaza Strip, while the country’s government claimed campaigners attempted to smuggle weapons into the area.Faymann said today (Mon) an independent committee must clarify the 31 May occurrences.The chancellor announced he will meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this Wednesday and Thursday. Faymann added he will also travel to Palestine territory to meet Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority.Faymann’s journey follows People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll’s three-day visit to Israel last month. Pröll met with Peres and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to discuss strategies on how to fight the effects of the economic crisis, but also visited the Holocaust memorial of Yad Vashem and the grave of Theodor Herzl, who is regarded as the “father of modern political Zionism”.Faymann’s office said the chancellor plans to see both locations too. The delegation accompanying the chancellor will include new Jewish Museum Vienna director Danielle Spera.