BONN (Jan. 6)
Premier Levi Eshkol told the German people last night, in a televised press conference with German newsmen, that the initiative for full diplomatic relations between West Germany and Israel should come from West Germany. He said this was a moral and ethical question, and not merely one of diplomatic usage.
He stressed that the Arab countries needed the Western world much more than the West needed the Arabs, and that the West should realize this and not allow Arab blackmail of Western countries. He added that West Germany should have the courage to make its own decision on that issue.
He disclosed that Israel had protested against East Germany’s refusal to pay indemnification to victims of the Nazi era and stressed that West Germany had correctly fulfilled its commitments to Israel under the reparations treaty between the two countries. However, he said, those payments covered only a part of the property stolen from European Jews.
Asked if Israel might ask for credits from West Germany, the Premier said this was possible, adding that Israel, with its 2,000,000 citizens, could be a better market for West Germany than several of the Arab states together. For this reason, he said, it would also be of benefit to West Germany to extend credits to Israel.
He discussed the widely debated issue of West Germany’s refusal to extend the effective date of the statute of limitations for prosecution of Nazi war criminals. He said there seemed to be a “contradiction” between Chancellor Ludwig Erhard’s “positive attitude” toward extending the deadline and the recent Cabinet decision against doing so.
One of the newsmen asked his views on the problem of recall of West German scientists and technicians working on advanced weapons systems in Egypt. The newsman noted that West German law guarantees the right of free movement for all Germans, and suggested that this posed a limit to efforts to obtain withdrawal of the scientists. The Premier replied that he thought that “where there is a will there is a way.”
He suggested creation of an official body which could compel the appearance before it of recalcitrant German scientists. He said that existence of such a body might cause some of the scientists to have second thoughts about continuing their work for the Nasser regime. He noted that, in the last analysis, the scientists “could have no interest in working against us. They want mainly to earn money.”