Washington (May. 25)
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany maintained last Friday that he agreed with the Arab view that if the West alienates the Palestinians, it drives them towards the Soviet Union. At the same time, Schmidt stressed that West Germany’s attitude toward the Palestine Liberation Organization depends on the PLO recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
“The Arab leaders and I share the view that the more the West alienates the Palestinians, the more will they be drawn toward the Soviet Union,” Schmidt said in a speech to the National Press Club. He said that on his visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he found that the leaders of those countries “fear that the smouldering Israeli-Arab crisis could offer the Soviet Union further opportunities for interference in the region.”
Schmidt repeated what he had said in Riyadh about his government’s position on the PLO. “Our German attitude toward the PLO will be determined by the position which the PLO adopts regarding the right — to which the State of Israel, too, is entitled — to live within secure and recognized frontiers,” he stated.
The West German policy in the Middle East was the subject of discussion last Thursday night between Schmidt and a seven-member delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. After the meeting at Blair House, Howard Squadron, the Presidents Conference chairman, said he was “still somewhat concerned about the position that Germany and the rest of the European nations have taken with respect to the European initiative” and also about the abstention by the Europeans at the United Nations and its specialized agencies, presumably on anti-Israel resolutions.
At the same time, Squadron said Schmidt had assured the Jewish leaders that there was “no change” in West Germany’s long commitment to Israel and to the Jewish people and to Schmidt’s belief that West Germany “has a special responsibility to the Jewish people.”