Establishment of Israel-german Diplomatic Relations Announced
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Establishment of Israel-german Diplomatic Relations Announced

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The establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and West Germany was announced simultaneously in Jerusalem and Bonn today.

The announcement included release of the texts of letters between Chancellor Ludwig Erhard and Premier Levi Eshkol, in which the Chancellor noted that “the attitude of the German Government in the past has proved that we are aware of the special German position toward the Jewish people all over the world, including Israel.” The letters were formally exchanged yesterday.

As agreed in the lengthy negotiations preceding the pact, Premier Eshkol’s letter was in the form of a reply to the Chancellor’s letter, thus indirectly emphasizing the fact that the establishment of relations was on the initiative of Chancellor Erhard’s Government.

The Chancellor said, in his letter, that he was “greatly satisfied” with the agreement. He added that “it has been possible to transform by mutual agreement the remaining supplies still outstanding under the previous arrangements with Israel concerning the supply of weapons.” This was a reference to a West German program of shipment of several million dollars worth of weapons to Israel which the Chancellor abruptly suspended under threats of an Arab boycott of West Germany.

The Chancellor also declared in his letter that his Government will be prepared in the near future, i. e. about two or three months, to enter into talks with the Government of Israel on the future of economic aid.” (In Bonn, a government spokesman indicated that Israel will get economic aid, but no arms.)


The Chancellor also gave assurances on another outstanding issue between the two countries the presence of West German scientists and technicians in Cairo working on advanced weapons for the regime of President Nasser. The Chancellor said in the letter that “a large number of the German scientists, technicians and experts engaged in activities in the military sphere in countries outside NATO have returned to Germany during recent months.”

He added that his Government “has reason to believe that a considerable number of the experts still there, particularly those engaged in the construction of rockets, will in the near future also return to Germany of their own accord.” Moreover, he said, “the German authorities are proceeding with all means provided by the law against any persons attempting without permission to entice German nationals to take up scientific, technical or expert activities in the military sphere in foreign countries.”

He concluded his letter with an expression of a hope “that this decision taken by cur two Governments will pave the way into a happier future of the relations of our two nations.” The letter was dated May 12.


In his reply, Premier Eshkol noted that the Chancellor had “already been informed of the decision of the Israel Government to accept your offer of March 8, 1965, conveyed to us by your special envoy, Dr. Kurt Birrenbach, to establish full diplomatic relations between our two countries.” Dr. Birrenbach made three visits to Israel to negotiate the exchange.

“The decision of our two Governments has been taken against a somber historical background and a stormy political one,” the Premier added, in a reference to the Nazi genocide program which cost the lives of 6, 000, 000 European Jewish men and women and children, and to the opposition among Israelis to the idea of diplomatic relations with Germany.

“I share our hope that our common decision will prove to be an important step towards a better future,” Mr. Eshkol continued. “I share your opinion about the importance of having found a solution to the outstanding matters mentioned in your letter.”

The Premier referred to the passages in the Chancellor’s letter concerning scientists and technicians working for the Nasser regime and said he hoped that “the attitude and intentions set out in your letter, which are in accordance with former statements by yourself, will speedily dispose of this affair.”

The Premier referred to one item of differences not mentioned in the Chancellor’s letter, declaring that the Chancellor was “certainly aware from our previous correspondence of the importance which I have always attached to the question of the cancellation of the statute of limitations” on the prosecution in West Germany of Nazi war criminals.” This problem will understandably remain a matter of deep concern to us.” This was a reference to the action of the West German Parliament last March in extending the deadline for such prosecutions by four-and-a-half years, only until January 1, 1970.

Meanwhile, Syria today became the second Arab state to break diplomatic relations with Bonn, in retaliation for the decision here to establish full diplomatic links with Israel. Iraq announced its step of the same nature yesterday. Other reports indicated that Jordan and Kuwait were also about to follow suit.

(In New York, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sent cables to West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard and Israeli Premier Levi Eshkol expressing “satisfaction” at the establishment of German-Israel diplomatic relations and voicing hope that the “new formal association” will develop into a “meaningful, historic relationship which will enable the two countries to contribute to stability and peace in the Near East.”)

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