JERUSALEM (Nov. 5)
The Cabinet issued a sharp condemnation today of the West German government for its release of the three surviving Munich terrorists in return for the passengers and crew of a hijacked Lufthansa jet, expressed shock over certain subsequent statements by West German spokesmen, and assailed Germany’s failure “to take effective action” against Libya which gave haven to the hijackers and the freed terrorists.
The statement was released after the Cabinet heard a report by Foreign Minister Abba Eban and a briefing by Ambassador Eliashiv Ben-Horin, Israel’s Ambassador to Bonn, who returned home Friday for what were described as “prolonged consultations.” The Cabinet statement noted that Eban would continue consultations with Ben-Horin “and will determine the date of his return to Germany with the concurrence of the Prime Minister.”
The Cabinet secretary refused to say after today’s session whether Bonn has replied to Israel’s demand for a clarification of its policy towards terrorism and if so what were the contents of its reply. But the statement published today indicated that the Cabinet as a whole was not satisfied with whatever message may have been received from Germany.
VIEWS OF CABINET HARD-LINERS PREVAIL
The harshness of the statement, coming after the West German actions were thoroughly denounced in the Knesset last week by Eban and other government officials, indicated that the views of the Cabinet hard liners prevailed despite recent unofficial hints from Eban and a few other ministers that there was no need to go overboard with protests and expressions of shock. Apparently there was a feeling in some quarters that over-reaction by Israel could drive West Germany closer to the Arabs. Some observers said tonight that the Cabinet statement invited a German reaction and that Israel was hoping Bonn would make an effort to ease the tension.
The Cabinet took angry exception to a statement by a West German spokesman that Germany was not responsible for the Middle East conflict. It was also aroused by the West German analogy between the freeing of the Munich terrorists and Israel’s release of several imprisoned terrorists following the hijacking of an El Al plane to Algeria two years ago. The Cabinet statement said there was no comparison between the prisoners who had served most of their sentences and were not in any event imprisoned for murder and the three Munich terrorists who participated in the slaying of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes Sept. 5.
The Cabinet statement expressed astonishment that the armed hijackers were permitted to board the Lufthansa jet undetected and that no effective measures were taken against Libya. The statement said, “The explanations given by the Federal German government did not alter the stand of the government of Israel nor did it appease the anger which found expression in government statements made in the Knesset and in other forums. The government is firmly resolved that the Knesset resolution of 31 Oct, 1972 still holds good. Only a resolute stand taken against hijackers and terrorists–and against the Arab governments encouraging their activities–is likely to prevent the proliferation of violence and bloodshed and to maintain the principles of international law and coexistence.”