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Israeli Minister Criticizes Austria over Reparations and Failure to Try War Criminals

Gideon Hausner, Israeli Minister-Without-Portfolio, criticized Austria last night for its refusal to compensate Jews for the loss of property confiscated by the Nazis and for falling to prosecute Nazi war criminals. “Israel’s claim for compensation is all the more justified in a time of economic difficulties,” Hausner told a meeting of the Austro-Israel Society.

Hausner, a leader of Israel’s Independent Liberal Party and the man who prosecuted Adolf Eichmann, said Israelis are “shocked” that Austria refuses to try Nazi war criminals. “What explanation does Austria intend to give?” he asked. The Israeli minister also said Israel was prepared to give back territory “for the sake of peace,” but declared “Israel will not negotiate with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) whose aim is to extinguish the Israeli State.” Noting that Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky said earlier this year that he has learned from Arab officials that the PLO is ready to unofficially recognize the existence of Israel, Hausner said: “We must stick to official statements and not to what some Arabs whisper into the ears of foreign statesmen,” However, at a news conference today, he said he welcomed Kreisky’s efforts to bring about a meeting between Israel and Egyptian Socialists. Hausner said he would be willing to meet with Egyptian officials to discuss the Mideast situation.

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