Israel Cabinet Ratifies West German Reparations Agreement

The Israel Cabinet today approved the West German reparations agreement under which Germany will pay the Jewish State some $822,000,000 over a period of 12 years.

Earlier this week-end, the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee voted eight to five, with one abstention, to ratify the pact. Under the terms of Parliament’s decision on the treaty, some months ago, ratification required only approval of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Cabinet.

The vote surprised Mapai observers here, since two of the votes against ratification and the lone abstention were those of General Zionist deputies, members of the government coalition, It was recalled that when the original Parliamentary debate on the treaty was held, the General Zionists, at that time an opposition party, fought the agreement. Two Mapam deputies and a Herut representative also voted against the pact in committee.

The committee vote followed a report by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett who in formed group that the pact as ratified by the Bonn Parliament was the same one signed at Luxemburg last September 10, except for a provision contained in an exchange of letters which would have barred German shipping from entering Israeli ports with reparations goods. After German shipping interests had protested this point. Israel agreed to a German request to eliminate the prohibition.

After the initial payments on reparations are made during two fiscal years ending March, 1954, the Germans are obligated under the treaty to make ten annual payments of $74,000,000 in goods. however, in the event that Bonn finds that these payments strain the German economy, it may reduce the annual payment to $60,000,000 and spread it over 12 years.

(The New York Times, commenting editorially today on the ratification of the reparations pact, says: “Credit for this result, which should contribute to Germany’s moral rehabilitation and ease the lot of Israel, belongs primarily to two men–Chancellor Adenauer himself and Dr. Nahum Goldmann of New York, who negotiated with him on behalf of both Israel and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. They had to withstand opposition from extremists both in Germany and in Israel, but the agreement they made has set a precedent which should contribute toward the solution of other problems in the Middle East.”)

Under the terms of the agreement, West Germany will pay Israel 3,000,000,000 deutschemarks ($715,000,000), and an additional 450,000,000 detuschemarks ($107,000,000) which Israel will transmit to world Jewish organizations to reimburse them for expenses incurred in aiding Jewish victims of the Hitler terror.

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