Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the death of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl meant that Israel has lost one of its “greatest friends”.

Netanyahu said in a statement that “Kohl was the leader who united Germany with a determined and steady hand”.

He said “among the State of Israel’s greatest friends, he was completely dedicated to its security”.

Mr Netanyahu said he sends “condolences to the Kohl family and to the German people”.

Kohl, the chancellor credited with German reunification, died aged 87, according to his political party. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Helmut Kohl was “the right man at the right time” when the winds of change began sweeping through eastern Europe in the 1980s.

Mrs Merkel said Kohl understood that there was a “historic chance” to overcome Germany’s decades-long division, and seized it.

Speaking in Rome on Friday, Mrs Merkel said her predecessor’s skilful statesmanship won over Germany’s neighbours and ensured a peaceful reunification.