Israel Finance Minister and Ben-gurion Clash on Use of German Funds

Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir denied today in Parliament — after a verbal clash with former Premier David Ben-Gurion — that West German funds provided this year to Israel in the first credit agreement between the two countries, were scheduled to be used for development of the Negev. West Germany granted Israel a credit of $40,000,000 for 1966 in a general agreement scheduled for annual renegotiation.

The Finance Minister read aloud from a protocol of a talk between then West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and then Premier Ben-Gurion at a meeting in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1960, at which the Chancellor promised economic aid to Israel. The protocol, prepared by an Israeli interpreter present at the talk, indicated that the Negev was mentioned three times.

The Finance Minister added that the West German credits were scheduled to provide work for 1,000,000 people in the fields of industry, agriculture and the merchant navy. He asserted that this understanding was further clarified when the funds were transferred from West German banks to the Israel Bank for Development and Industry. As far as the Negev was concerned, he declared, the Israel Government had invested 1,500,000,000 pounds ($500,000,000) in the development of the Negev. This sum, he said, was far larger than West Germany’s credit.

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