JERUSALEM (Apr. 26)
A Foreign Office spokesman expressed “disappointment” today over the decision of the West German Cabinet to postpone action on legislation to prevent West German scientists from working on weapons systems in Egypt.
The Bonn Government was to act last week on an amendment to the Federal passport law which would give officials authority to recall scientists working for foreign governments. The amendment was prepared by the Interior Ministry after disclosures last year that West German engineers were helping Egypt to develop rockets and fighter aircraft. Opposition deputies in the West German Parliament charged that the scientists were violating the Constitution.
While awaiting official assessment of the decision by the Bonn Cabinet to postpone action on the amendment, officials of the Foreign Office here declined to comment on the reasons for the postponement but the factor of Arab pressure was not excluded.
Opinion in Israel was mounting today for a renewal of the campaign against the continued activities of scientists in Egypt. Opposition parties were reported to be planning to raise the issue in Parliament when it convenes tomorrow after a recess.
Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, meanwhile expressed today her “utmost regret” over the postponement by the West German Cabinet of consideration of legislation to prevent German scientists from working on advanced weapons systems. Speaking at a Tel Aviv Press Club luncheon, she said: “We never believed the present situation is the will of the West German Government. However, those scientists and technicians are its citizens. Even today we do not say they were sent by the Bonn Government, but it is only the Government which can do something to get them back. “
“To my regret a year has passed, we were given assurances of a special law and there was even a vote in the Bundestag in favor of such a law–but here again there is postponement, “Mrs. Meir stated. She added that Israel recognized the right of any Parliament and the right of democracy. “But, ” she stressed, “there is a supreme law–that of safeguarding innocent lives–and no nation or part of it should participate in exterminating another nation.”
(In Bonn, Defense Minister van Hassel denied angrily yesterday charges voiced in Parliament that the West German Government is responsible for the work of German scientists and technicians employed by Egypt on the manufacture of missiles, jet planes and other armaments aimed at Israel. “We have no control over these men,” he said, referring to the Germans working for Egypt. “If a scientist chooses to go abroad, we have no means of bringing him back.”)