Arens Says Israel No Longer Opposes German Reunification

Israel appears to have done a sharp about-face on the question of German reunification, which it strongly opposed only a few months ago.

Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens told Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at a meeting here Thursday that Israel is no longer negative about uniting East and West Germany, Israeli officials in Bonn said.

They said he told Genscher that Israel has confidence in the democratic institutions that have developed in the Federal Republic over the past 40 years and is encouraged by the broadening of the democratic base in East Germany.

Until fairly recently, Israeli officials were speaking out against possible reunification.

Perhaps the strongest statement was made by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir during his visit to the United States in November.

Shamir said that when the German people had been united, “the great majority” of them “decided to kill millions of Jewish people,” and that if given the opportunity, it is conceivable “they will try to do it again.”

Those remarks drew protests from Chancellor Helmut Kohl, which led to an angry exchange of letters with Shamir.

The Israeli prime minister wrote, among other things, “We cannot forget the images of the cheering crowds in the ’30s and what they produced. We carry with us the memories of the Jews who were massacred in the Holocaust.”

Arens, on an official visit to West Germany, met with Genscher for 90 minutes.

The German foreign minister is reported to have told him he opposes European Community sanctions against Israel in the areas of trade and scientific cooperation.

The sanctions were recommended on Jan. 17 by the Parliament of Europe, the E.C.’s legislative body, to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, particularly the closure of Palestinian schools in there.

The sanctions were endorsed by the E.C.’s Executive Commission in Brussels last week.

According to Israeli and German officials here, Genscher said West Germany is opposed in principle to sanctions as a means to achieve political ends. He promised to raise the matter at the next meeting of the E.C. Council of Ministers.

NEXT STORY