West German-israel Relations Improving
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West German-israel Relations Improving

The projected visit of Israeli Premier Shimon Peres here at the beginning of 1986 reflects steadily improved relations between Israel and West Germany, according to aides of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who extended the invitation to Peres during a recent meeting between the two leaders at UN headquarters in New York.

Kohl’s aides, trying to put behind them Israeli irritation over Bonn’s vigorous condemnation of the bombing of PLO headquarters in Tunisia, pointed to the steady progress in contacts between the two nations since Kohl took office in 1982. They recalled, as well, that Kohl had put an end to years of misunderstandings and hesitations that had characterized the regime of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who had demonstratively rejected on Israeli invitation to visit Jerusalem.

Bonn’s apparent conciliatory attitude towards Israel emerged in the wake of criticism within the government over the initial West German reaction to the Tunis raid. Several ministers said that the vigorous condemnation by Bonn was not consistent with its pledges to fight international terrorism.

The Ministers further pointed out that PLO terrorists were working together with both leftwing socalled urban guerrillas as well as neo-Nazi groups. The critics became more outspoken after internal intelligence reports and press accounts indicated that the PLO was ultimately responsible for the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro at the beginning of this month.

At the same time, German officials here revealed that Israeli President Chaim Herzog is also likely to visit Bonn next year. He was invited, they said, by West German President Richard von Weiszaecker, who visited Israel recently despite objections of the Foreign Ministry, which was concerned about Arab reactions following the Tunis air-raid.

Peres will be the second Israeli Prime Minister to visit Bonn. The first was Yitzhak Rabin, who was here in 1975.

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