JERUSALEM (Jan. 24)
Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany arrived here today for a five-day official visit declaring that he came “as representative of a new Germany” and “as the heir of the late Konrad Adenquer, whose name is enshrined as one who opened relations between our two countries. We now want to deepen the friendly relations between us.”
Kohl, accompanied by his wife and a large entourage of West German officials, was greeted by Premier Yitzhak Shamir at Ben Gurion Airport. Each leader delivered a formal statement, Kohl in German.
Shamir, speaking Hebrew, observed that they had much to discuss and said his quest would be able to see something of Israel’s achievements and learn of its problems. He said they would discuss international and Middle East problems, relations between Israel and Europe and bilateral relations between Bonn and Jerusalem.
Kohl is the third West German Chancellor to visit Israel since the State was founded 35 years ago. Adenuer was the first, though he came after leaving office and former Chancellor Willy Brandt was the second, II years ago.
SAYS ISRAELIS ‘ARE CLOSE TO OUR HEARTS’
Kohl said he welcomed Israel’s invitation and hoped his visit would serve as a “bridge over the terrible abyss of the past.” He stressed, in his remarks, “Israel is an important country for us. The people of Israel are close to our hearts. We have followed closely the development of Israel and its upbuilding. It is our hope you can live in peace and freedom.”
The Chancellor also observed that “Israel lies in an area which we, and our neighbors in Europe have special interest in its stability. We are therefore concerned that efforts made to ensure a just and lasting peace are continually set back. All concerned should therefore bend their efforts to seeking solutions which will give the peoples of the area the possibility of living together, within recognized borders. Only through a solution arrived at by negotiations, acceptable to all, can the peoples of the region be freed from the yoke of war,”
He added, “We, the Germans, are prepared to play our part, together with our partners in the European Community, to bring about such negotiations.”
Kohl, who heads the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is regarded as a fried of Israel. He and Shamir will engage in intensive talks during his stay in the country. The Israeli leadership intends to make clear its absolute opposition to West German plans to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, or any other Arab country still technically in a state of war with Israel. The Israelis have expressed concern that the Saudis will be offered Germany’s Leopard II tank, regareded by experts as the best of its kind in the world.
Although the Leopard II is reportedly no longer on the Saudi shopping list, the Germans are said to have offered to sell them 300 anti-aircraft tanks and misiles in addition to other military hardware. Kohl reportedly made such commitments on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and agreed to military cooperation with the Saudis. The Germans contend that these weapons are solely for defense porposes. The Israelis claim that any weapons in Saudi hands will one day be used against Israel.
The West German Ambassador, Hans Nielson, said in a recent interview that his government would fully take into account “Israel’s legitimate security interests.” Deputy Foreign Minister Alois Mertes, who is accompanying Kohl, said in Bonn last week that the Israeli position would be given due consideration when Germany re-evaluates its Middle East policies after Kohl’s return.
Another issue on the Kohl-Shamir agenda is Israel’s request for West German support to protect Israeli agricultural exports to Europe after Spain joins the European Economic Community (EEC).
STRINGENT SECURITY MEASURES
Stringent security measures were taken to protect the West German visitors. At least 1,000 police were assigned to the area of the Yad Vashem, Kohl’s first stop on his arrival in Jerusalem. The 53-year-old Chancellor was in his teens when World War II ended with the downfall of the Third Reich. He is therefore the first West German leader who had no adult experience of the Nazi regime.
Nevertheless, his visit is haunted by Germany’s past. Many Israelis are still bitterly opposed to any ties with Germany. Several anti-German demonstrations were planned and members of Betar plastered posters with the yellow Star of David along Kohl’s route from the airport to Jerusalem last night. They were promptly removed by poice who made it clear they would tolerate no unauthorized demonstrations.
Nevertheless, the West German flag was conspicuously rare at the airport, in the streets and at the Yad Vashem. It is being displayed only where demanded by protocol. The German national anthem was played at the airport arrival ceremonies. Kohl referred to it as “music by Hoydn which opens with words recognizing the importance of fratemity, justice and freedom.” The anthem is known the world over as “Deutschland Ueber Alles.”