Israel Rejects Bonn Offer of Money in Lieu of Arms Shipments
Menu JTA Search

Israel Rejects Bonn Offer of Money in Lieu of Arms Shipments

Download PDF for this date

Israel’s Cabinet decided here today to reject any offers West Germany may make for financial compensation in lieu of carrying out its earlier agreement to ship arms to Israel.

Following a series of lengthy talks between Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Foreign Minister Golda Meir, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Ambassador Felix E. Shinnar, Israel’s envoy to Germany, in charge of the purchasing mission at Cologne, the Cabinet devoted its regular weekly meeting entirely to the West German Government’s announcement that it has halted arms shipments to Israel, in response to pressures from Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The meeting lasted four and a half hours, with Mr. Peres and Mr. Shinnar attending, Mr. Shinnar had conferred in Bonn last week with Chancellor Ludwig Erhard and Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier, president of the Bundestag, lower house of West Germany’s parliament. (A Bonn dispatch to Kol Israel, the government-operated radio network, reported that Mr. Erhard had told Mr. Shinnar that the German Government’s decision meant “the immediate and final halt of arms deliveries to Israel.”)

After Mrs. Meir reviewed the recent developments in Bonn-Israel relations, while Mr. Shinnar reported in detail on his heretofore undisclosed conversations with the West German leaders, the Cabinet authorized Mr. Eshkol to deliver the Government’s official reaction to the situation in the Knesset (Parliament) tomorrow. Three opposition parties–the right-wing Herut, the Liberals and the Communists, have already fited motions for full debate on the German-Israeli developments. It was stated authoritatively, after the Cabinet meeting, that the Government will not object to those demands for full-scale debate.


In his speech to the Knesset, it was understood, Mr. Eshkol will denounce Bonn’s submission to blackmail by the Cairo Government, which had insisted on the halting of arms shipments to Israel as part of its price for withholding recognition from Communist East Germany. Mr. Eshkol will also, it was said, reject Bonn’s concept of withholding arms from “areas of tension”–a thesis put forward by Dr. Gersten maler. Such a concept, Mr. Eshkol will presumably tell Parliament, equates the aggressive Arab states with Israel, which the Arabs intend to destroy, by denying defensive weapons to Israel.

Observers here pointed out today that halting of half of the arms shipments West Germany had agreed to send to Israel will not greatly affect Israel’s security. The major point at issue, these sources hold, is the danger inherent in submission by Bonn to Egypt’s blackmail, which may continue and spread detrimentally to the stability of the Middle East region.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shinnar, who was called back to Jerusalem for consultations, immediately after his meetings with Chancellor Erhard and Dr. Gerstenmaier, is remaining here for the time being. It was understood that the question of his return to his post at Gologne Will be determined only after Bonn fully clarifies its position on the entire issue of German-Israeli relations.


In editorial reaction to the Bonn decision to terminate arms shipments to Israel, most of the Israeli newspapers today stressed the gravity of the development and scored the West German move in bowing to Egyptian blackmail.

The Histadrut daily, Davar, said that, while the Israel Government may not wish to reveal the practical steps it plans to take until the extent of Bonn’s surrender to Nasser is known, “there is not the slightest doubt about the gravity Israel ascribes to the matter.” Born’s only alternative, the editorial declared, is either to meet the obligations arising not only from the formal agreement but also from its moral duty–or else, to side, even though unintentionally, with Egypt against Israel.

Describing the Bonn decision as a “spit in the face” for Israel, Herut, organ of the Herut Party, said that the development “should have aroused us from our lethargy.” It urged Israelis to “unite in a mighty campaign” against the “open and shameful collaboration Germany and Egypt for the destruction of Israel.” Bonn’s blow to Israel, the newspaper declared, is pregnant with danger “if we do not strike back.”

The Liberal Party daily, Haboker, urged the Israel Government to sever relations with Bonn, declaring that Jerusalem-Bonn relations “could not continue without being normalized in a manner befitting the relationship between states.”

A more moderate view was voiced in an editorial in Hatzofeh, organ of the National Religious Party, which called for sober and cautious consideration of Israel’s reaction in view of its serious position in the new alignment of powers in the world and particularly in the Middle East.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund