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Congress of Municipal Authorities from 34 Lands Opens in Israel

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The flags of 34 countries–including West Germany’s–decorated Habimah Hall here today as the 15th Congress of the International Union of Local Authorities opened this morning.

President Izhak Ben-Zvi and Mrs. Ben-Zvi led the high-ranking Israelis present at the opening ceremonies. In addition to Mr. Ben-Zvi, who greeted the delegates, first in English then in Hebrew, the mayors and other municipal administrators from 34 countries were welcomed also by Foreign Minister Golda Meir and Minister of the Interior Moshe Shapiro.

Other members of Israel’s Cabinet were present, as well as members of the diplomatic corps, ranking heads of Israeli Government departments, and mayors and members of city councils from many Israeli municipalities. Only city council members representing the Herut Party boycotted the session, in protest against the display of the German flag.

In a ceremony opening the Congress, West Berlin’s fighting, anti-Nazi Governing Mayor Willy Brandt, turned over to Tel Aviv Mayor Mordechai Namir the flag of the IULA, which has been in his custody since the organization’s last congress. Mayor Brandt compared Jerusalem and Berlin as two divided cities, pointing out that, despite the partition of the two capitals, both of the cities are growing and expanding. Mayor Namir, in response, spoke of Tel Aviv’s vast growth since the Jewish State was established.

BERLIN MAYOR SAYS GERMANS REGRET THE PAST; APPLAUDED BY DELEGATES

The West Berlin Mayor pleaded with Israelis to believe him that responsible people in today’s Germany seriously try to learn from the past and that their actions are based on the lessons of history. He was warmly applauded by the delegates, including several hundred Israelis.

“A German who speaks in Israel.” Mayor Brandt declares, “has to bear the terrible burden of the past. I bear this burden. I do not believe in the wisdom of letting the grass grow and forgetting the past.” He said that Germany’s great hope was the younger generation and they should be prepared to bridge over the past, since it is these men who will assume the responsibility for tomorrow’s world.

Since his arrival here Monday evening, Mayor Brandt, who is the Socialist party’s candidate for the chancellorship in the West German elections next year, received full red carpet treatment from Israeli officials. Yesterday, the West Berlin Mayor was given a helicopter tour of the country during which he declared that, if he becomes West German Chancellor, he would work for normal diplomatic relations between his country and Israel.

Last night, Mayor Brandt was the dinner guest of Foreign Minister Golda Meir. He met with Finance Minister Levi Eshkol earlier today and he will be received by Premier David Ben-Gurion tomorrow.

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