GENEVA (Mar. 2)
The World Council of Churches today issued a statement on some $50,000,000 worth of church and mission property formerly owned by German churches in Palestine and which has now been assigned to the Lutheran World Federation by the German churches.
The issue of German church property was the subject of a sharp clas? last week between Israel representative Aubrey S. Eban and an American delegate at the U.N. Trusteeship Council which is discussing an international statuts for Jerusalem.
Today’s statement said that a representative of the churches has sought from the Israel Government a guarantee of prompt recognition of ownership of all church and mission property, without distinction as to religion, race or nationality. The churches desire further that Israel give concrete assurances that it will facilitate measures to recover the property, such as the admission of accredited representatives of the churches to Israel, permission to inspect the property, give church representatives access to records, and negotiate for indennification and restitution of church property.
Israel officials have given assent to this broad policy statement insofar as the interests of the World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Council is concerned, with the exception of German church property. Definitive action in this direction has been held up pending action by the Israel Parliament on a draft measure dealing with former German church and mission property. Under the draft law, places of worship would be returned immediataly and the disposition of church-owned schools, hospitals and orphanages would be left to the Minister of Finance.