Genscher’s Visit to Israel Termed Successful, but Differences Emerged on Boundaries, Palestinian Iss
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Genscher’s Visit to Israel Termed Successful, but Differences Emerged on Boundaries, Palestinian Iss

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West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher ended his visit to Israel yesterday afternoon with a declaration at Ben Gurion Airport that he believed Israel has shown its “readiness to continue along a constructive road to peace.” Germany’s interest, he added, was “a lasting and strong peace in this area.”

Genscher’s visit, as the guest of Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, was termed successful by Israeli officials, particularly in the field of future economic cooperation between Israel and West Germany. But differences, especially over Israel’s future boundaries and the Palestine question overshadowed the political aspects of the visit.

Officials stressed that the talks were conducted in a friendly atmosphere. But West Germany, bound by the European Common Market policy statement on the Middle East of November, 1973, supports almost total Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories. Germany also believes that Israel can negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization and a Palestinian state on the West Bank should not be ruled out by Israel if the Palestinians recognize the Israeli State and accept Resolution 242.

Israeli officials have so far avoided speculation on what they would do should the Palestinians comply with those conditions and regard such a development so purely hypothetical. Israeli policy remains firmly opposed to any contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization.


Genscher was, in fact, taken to task for the recent “unofficial” contacts between West German officials and PLO representatives. The German leader took pains to stress that those contacts were not on any official level and that they were utilized to make it clear to the PLO that it could not hope for Bonn’s support in a peacemaking role unless it changed the basic tenets of its present policy which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

In the economic sphere, the main problem was the serious imbalance in trade between Israel and West Germany. The latter country sells $700 million worth of exports to Israel annually but imports only $135 million worth of goods from that country. The economic aides of both ministers held lengthy talks during which the Germans proposed that Israeli firms should be encouraged to exhibit their wares in Germany; more trade missions from West Germany to Israel; and a mutual sharing of industrial know-how between the two countries.

Before his departure, Genscher paid a private visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Old Jerusalem and visited the Weizmann Institute of Science at Rehovot which has close ties with the Max Planck Institute and other German institutions of higher learning.

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