Menu JTA Search

Bonn Hesitant About Visit to Israel by German Foreign Minister

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The Bonn government is hesitating over a visit to Israel by Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher which was announced several months ago although no date was set. Informed diplomatic sources indicated that a decision will be influenced by whether President Francois Mitterrand of France goes ahead with his scheduled trip to Israel next month.

French sources said last month that Mitterrand would postpone his trip to dramatize France’s displeasure over Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. The Foreign Ministry in Paris would neither confirm nor deny those reports but hinted that the President would wait until the Golan issue cooled down to announce the postponement so as not to overly embarrass the Israeli government.

Some officials here want to keep diplomatic and political contacts with Israel at a low level. Their position was strengthened by Israel’s Golan move. Others argue that this would mean deepening the rift between the two countries. Most diplomats agree that if Mitterrand goes to Israel, Genscher could not afford not to go there too.

But diplomatic sources made it clear that a visit to Israel by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt is out of the question. Schmidt has a standing invitation from Israel, first extended seven years ago to the Chancellor of West Germany by then Premier Yitzhak Rabin. But Schmidt was the target of a bitter personal attack by Premier Menachem Begin during his campaign for reelection last spring.

Nevertheless, Bonn-Israel relations took a turn for the better last week when the director general of the Foreign Ministry held talks in Jerusalem. They were described here as friendly and helpful. The issues covered included the Golan annexation and Israel’s relations with the European Economic Community.

NEXT STORY