JERUSALEM (Mar. 11)
Dr. Kurt Birenbach, West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard’s special envoy, was expected today to make a second visit to Israel Sunday to bring the Chancellor’s replies on a number of points raised in the first round of talks earlier this week on West German-Israeli issues.
It was reliably learned that an understanding was reached on Israel’s demand that West Germany complete its suspended arms deliveries to Israel, as well as on Israel approval in principle of West Germany’s offer to establish diplomatic relations. Dr. Birenbach arrived in Israel last Sunday and remained for three days of talks with Premier Levi Eshkol and other Government officials. Among still unresolved issues were the question of future aid to Israel by West Germany, and the work of West German scientists on advanced weapons systems in Egypt.
Premier Eshkol was scheduled definitely today to report to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, next Tuesday, on his negotiations with Dr. Birenbach, By that time, he is expected to have another round of conversations with Dr. Erhard’s special emissary. There was also a possibility, thus far, unconfirmed officially that, immediately after his Knesset appearance, Mr. Eshkol might depart for Brussels, to meet in the Belgian capital with Chancellor Erhard. Mr. Eshkol is scheduled to go to Britain for high-level conferences next Thursday.
Thus far, it seemed today, a substantial majority in Israel’s Parliament is in favor of establishing diplomatic ties with West Germany. Only the right-wing Herut Party, the left-wing Mapam and the Communists are expected to oppose the move, Achdut Avodah and Agudat Israel reportedly had not come to a final decision, but the indications were that they would take no more negative action than to abstain in any forthcoming vote.
ERHARD MOVE SURPRISED BIRENBACH; HE VIEWS ISRAELI PROBLEMS AS DIFFICULT
Authoritative sources here meanwhile said today that Chancellor Erhard’s decision to propose establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel caught many Germans by surprise. Among the latter was Dr. Birenbach, who originally was sent to Israel to discuss the entire range of West German-Israeli relations and to try to solve the Bonn-Jerusalem crisis over the arms aid suspension. Reportedly, Dr. Birenbach learned about the Chancellor’s decision only while he was enroute to Israel and, on his arrival, he had not yet been informed about the complete text of the Chancellor’s statement.
(Dr. Birenbach said last night when he returned to Bonn that the problems between Israel and West Germany were “most difficult.” He declined further comment until after reporting to Chancellor Erhard.)