Eshkol Sees No Immediate Normalization of Relations with Germany

Full rapprochement between Israel and Germany, not merely on the governmental level but among the peoples of the two countries, will take time, even though diplomatic relations will bring about a normal state of affairs between Jerusalem and Bonn, Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared in an interview published today.

On the eve of the formal exchange of ambassadors between the two countries, the current issue of the mass circulation magazine, Der Spiegel, appeared today with a lengthy interview with Mr. Eshkol as part of a special, 12-page report on Israel. The report, embellished with Israel’s blue-white flag, provided a detailed report on Israel’s population and achievements in a highly friendly manner.

Mr. Eshkol expressed the hope that the normalization of relations between the two governments “will not be restricted to the governments only but will, eventually, spread to the two peoples.” He cited historical data about how Persia’s King Cytus had permitted Jews to return to their homeland 2,000 years ago, in spite of the fact that, at one time, under King Ahaseurus, the Jews were threatened with extermination by Haman.

He noted that “the Jews also fought Britain bitterly” but pointed out that “we remember with gratitude that it was the Balfour Declaration that made the Jewish State possible, and Israel and Britain now enjoy close and friendly relations. With time, and if the proper attitude is taken,” he said, “this could become the situation between the Germans and Israel.

“The process will be neither easy nor rapid,” he emphasized. “It will depend on the German Ambassador to Israel who will have to, in order to succeed in his mission, represent not only Germany in Israel but also Israel in Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people in Israel today have concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms. Forgiveness will be a long and painful process.”

Mr. Eshkol declared that Israel wants no economic charity from West Germany. “What we want,” he stated, “is to be able to earn our own living by our own work.” However, he asked for Germany’s support to enable Israel to become an associate member of the six-nation European Common Market. “What we want from Germany also,” he said, “is for Bonn and for German industry to adopt a courageous and steadfast attitude, should the Arabs try to blackmail you into joining their boycott campaign.”

The Israeli premier denied that Israel ever asked Germany to guarantee Israel’s borders or her security. “This was never even mentioned,” he asserted.

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