THE HAGUE (Apr. 7)
The German-Israeli reparations talks were suspended today following a statement by the German delegation that it had examined the Israeli claim for one billion dollars from Western Germany and had found justification for only $750,000,000.
The Israeli delegation said the German statement was completely unsatisfactory and that it would make a full report to this effect to the Israel Government for its “consideration, review and decision.” In due course, the results will be brought to the attention of the German delegation and the West German Government, a spokesman for the Israeli delegation said.
The spokesman emphasized that the Israeli delegation was not empowered to break off negotiations with the Germans and that this could be done only by the Israel Government. Further Israeli-German negotiations are, therefore, suspended until the Israel Government makes its decision, he declared.
Asked to amplify on the German statement, Prof. Franz Boehm, head of the German delegation, said: “The Israeli figure of one billion dollars was based on the cost of settling 500,000 Nazi victims in Israel at a cost of $3,000 per person. (Israel’s total claim was $1,500,000,000, of which $1,000,000,000 was asked of Western Germany and $500,000,000 from Soviet-dominated Eastern Germany.) We scanned this figure and accepted the number of 500,000 victims as correct. However, our delegation finds the figure of $3,000 per person too high, and we have based our offer on a lower estimate per person.”
Prof. Boehm admitted that his government would have to consider this figure in connection with other German debts. “But,” he added, “our government hopes to convince the other creditors that the obligation to Israel comes before all others.”
CRISIS IS VERY SERIOUS, ISRAELI DELEGATION SAYS
The spokesman for the Israeli delegation said that today’s crisis is very serious and has been brought about by the totally unsatisfactory nature of the German reply. The central point of that reply, he said, was the sudden introduction of a new element into the entire negotiations–a differentiation between a debt recognized at a certain sum and the refusal to admit that this sum is to be paid by declaring that the actual sum is to be determined later in conjunction with the London Conference on German external debts. By Inference, the Israeli spokesman pointed out, the Germans admit that the actual sum paid is bound to be far smaller than the sum recognized as the debt.
“This is an entirely new element which came as a complete surprise to us,” the Israeli spokesman said. “It had never been spoken of before and during the negotiations. In fact, it had been understood that the German delegation, during its two visits to Bonn, would try to come back with a practical offer of a sum to be paid. What they now say is that that they are prepared to recognize the size of the debt and even at this theoretical figure, to reduce it to $750,000,000.
“This,” the spokesman continued, “is not only a surprise but it is completely unsatisfactory. It clearly means that the sum, whenever paid, will be considerably smaller since the entire matter will be based on a system of quotas such as is being arranged for other countries at the London conference on German external debts. It means that the German delegation first of all bogged down on the size of the debt and that further reductions may be expected as part of the London conference. “The only positive feature of the statement made by the German delegation today is that on May 19 they will be able to give us a definite offer on all points. This is a positive feature, but it is clouded by conditions set forth regarding other German debts. We expressed our views to the German delegation this morning in great detail. We informed the Germans that it was now the duty of the Israel delegation to report to its government for consideration, review and decision. This is an entirely new situation and there will be nothing to meet about until the Israel Government reviews the negotiations,” the spokesman emphasized.
The German statement, it was learned, included a phrase which reads: “In the present economic and financial situation of our republic, the delegation cannot make any recommendation at the moment as to the time and method of payment of this sum.” In the meantime, the German delegation met this evening with the representatives of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany which is asking $500,000,000 from the West German Government on behalf of Jewish groups outside of Israel.