BONN (Feb. 17)
Chancellor Ludwig Erhard strongly defended today both West Germany’s arms aid to Israel and the suspension by his Government last week of arms deliveries to Israel. Addressing the Bundestag, lower house of Parliament here, he said West Germany had to evolve primarily a policy of German interest.
Asserting that “our relations with Israel and the Jewish world are over shadowed because of the past,” he said that current tensions in the Middle East had developed not because of West German military aid to Israel, but because of Egyptian President Nasser’s invitation to East German Communist head of state Walter Ulbrient to visit Cairo.
He asserted that many countries were sending arms aid to Israel, adding that “our military aid to Israel was concluded in agreement with our Allies.” However, he declared, “the Arabs did not show any understanding of our special step toward the Jewish people,” adding that West Germany did not have to justify itself to anybody for giving aid to Israel.
He also told the Bundestag that he was disappointed by Israel’s reaction to the arms delivery suspension, especially after efforts made by West Germany to help Israel during the past 10 years. “We have broken no agreement,” the Chancellor affirmed. “We just asked for Israel’s agreement to reach a common solution.”
Hitting back at his German critics, the Chancellor said that all opposition leaders had known about the arms aid program. The agreement was made in 1962 and the heads of all Parliamentary groups were informed, he asserted.
The Chancellor struck at Egypt, declaring that “whoever makes a pact with Ulbricht is West Germany’s enemy” and that West Germany would always regard such arrangements as a hostile action. Declaring that West German relations with Egypt were now “clouded,” he said categorically that all West German economic aid to Egypt would be stopped after the Ulbricht visit, which is scheduled to begin February 24.
It was “not for love: that the Soviets had given the Arabs vast military aid, the Chancellor said, but rather to create trouble in the region. He insisted that West German arms to Israel were a pittance compared to the “huge supplies” given to the Arabs by the Soviet countries. Referring again to “blackmail” by the Arabs, he said West Germany hoped for the support of its Allies for its Mideast policy in the coming weeks.
SOCIALIST CRITICIZES ERHARD AND ADENAUER, POINTS TO DUTY ON JEWS
Fritz Erler, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, denied that his party had been informed about the arms program for Israel. He criticized the Marquis de Neva, the Spanish Foreign Ministry official, who served as mediator in the Bonn-Cairo crisis and had reported that West Germany had promised the Arabs it would not recognize Israel. marquis’ mediation ended with the agreement by Bonn to cancel the arms shipments on condition Egypt would not recognize Communist East Germany.
Mr. Erler then reminded former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer that he had said in an interview with an Israeli paper recently that, if he was still Chancellor, there would have been diplomatic relations with Israel. Assailing the former Chancellor, the Social Democratic leader said Dr. Adenauer had had enough time to do that when he was Chancellor.
He said many countries had diplomatic relations with both Israel and the Arab states, and there was no reason why West Germany alone should not find the possibility of such relations with both the Arabs and Israel. Stressing that millions of Jews had been massacred by the Germans during World War II, he said that it must be modern Germany’s aim to avoid a new massacre against a part of those Jews who had survived.
Mr. Erler also raised the issue of extension of the statute of limitations for prosecution of Nazi war criminals, which the Chancellor has said repeatedly he favors. The opposition leaders said the Chancellor was strong enough to fight for those views. That was apparently a gibe at the Chancellor’s insistence that other members of his Cabinet, most of them opposed to extension, have a right to their views.