BONN (Aug. 29)
Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier, president of the Bundestag, lower house of West Germany’s parliament, left for Israel today after voicing a hope that his visit there and his contacts with leading officials of the Israeli Government would help further to cement German-Israel relations.
The immediate reason for Dr. Gerstenmaier’s trip — accompanied by his wife — is to attend the ceremonies in Jerusalem tomorrow in connection with the dedication of the new Knesset (Parliament) building. He will be one of between 40 and 50 leaders of parliaments in many free countries participating in the ceremonies. Incidentally, Dr. Gerstenmaier will be the first top Bonn official to visit Israel since West Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations last year. Dr. Gerstenmaier is scheduled to visit Israel’s President Zalman Shazar, confer with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and met with Kadish Luz, speaker of the Knesset.
As he was being seen off at the airport by Israel’s ambassador here, Asher Ben-Nathan, Dr. Gerstenmaier expressed his hope of being able to improve relations with Israel still further, and said: “The presence of so many Parliamentary speakers from all over the world at tomorrow’s ceremonies in dedication of the new Knesset building will serve to raise Israel’s prestige and to raise understanding between Israel and the rest of the world, thus underscoring the importance of Israel to the world.” Last week, at a celebration here in honor of Dr. Gerstenmaier’s 60th birthday, Mr. Ben-Nathan presented him with the Israel Government’s gold medal.