JERUSALEM (Nov. 14)
Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben-Meir warned today of a “cloud” that could darken Israeli-German relations: the possibility that Bonn might sell advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries.
Delivering a keynote speech on the opening day of the annual meeting of the Israel-Germany Friendship Associations, Ben-Meir said Israel could not agree with nor acquiesce in such a prospect. Israeli sources forecast intensified diplomatic action by Jerusalem in the weeks ahead designed to forestall any arms sales.
Recently, following Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s visit to Saudi Arabia, German officials sought to distinguish between offensive weapons, such as the Leopard 2 tank, and defensive weapons such as anti-tank devices and anti-aircraft systems. But Israel has declared firmly that it recognizes no such distinction. Ben-Meir in his address today dwelt on the “special character” of the Bonn-Jerusalem relationship, a character molded by the Holocaust experience.
URGES PRESSURE ON SYRIA
Referring to the Lebanon situation, Ben-Meir urged European and other Western states to exercise their influence and persuasive powers over Syria to moderate Damascus’ hostility to the Lebanon-Israel agreement of May 17. The Deputy Minister said this agreement was “the manifestation of” Lebanon’s desire for sovereignty and independence. But Syria sought to “impose its own will” on Lebanon, to the detriment of Lebanon’s sovereignty, Ben-Meir said.
He predicted that a new PLO that would arise from the debacle of Tripoli (where Yasir Arafat is still being pounded by the Syrian-backed rebels) would be “a front organization for Syria.”
Ben-Meir expressed the hope that Palestinians living in Judaea and Samaria would recognize “the vast gap” between the PLO and “real freedom fighters” and would in consequence of this realization “turn towards direct negotiations with us within the framework of Camp David.”
Attending the two-day meeting are German and Israeli parliamentarians, members of the friendship societies in each country. The German side is led by Eric Blumenfeld, president of the Israelisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft and a member of the European Parliament.