BONN (Dec. 3)
Chancellor Ludwig Erhard indicated today that he did not intend to take action in the near future on establishing normal diplomatic relations between West Germany and Israel but he emphasized that he considered the proposal a question of timing.
He was asked at his first press conference since taking office, whether he intended to take such action. He replied that “our relations with Israel are not so much a question of diplomatic relations as a matter of our obligations. Our policy in the past has been one of maximum recognition of our obligations and a true spirit of friendship.”
“It is not so much a question of whether we should take up diplomatic relations but when,” he added. “If you consider the present circumstances in the Arab world and the possible consequences in regard to the German Democratic Republic, our present course seems the most appropriate.” This was a reference to widespread fears among West German leaders that the Arab countries would retaliate against full West German diplomatic ties with Israel by extending recognition to the East German Communist regime.
“If you ask me whether I intend to make application in the Cabinet for exchange of full diplomatic relations with Israel, my answer would be ‘not at the present time.’” he said.