German Foreign Minister in Israel Hears Criticism from Levy over Gas
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German Foreign Minister in Israel Hears Criticism from Levy over Gas

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Germany’s foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, arrived Thursday in Israel on a visit he called “moral, not political,” and promptly received a tonguelashing from his Israeli counterpart.

Foreign Minister David Levy, at a joint news conference with his guest, accused Germany of supplying Iraq with both conventional and chemical weaponry.

German aid to Israel will not change Germany’s responsibility for Iraq’s armament, Levy said. He seemed to be referring to the $165 million grant announced Wednesday by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to help Israel with its economic problems.

Levy said he had told Genscher months ago that it was shameful for Germany to supply Iraq with technology for its military industry.

He said he appreciated the Bonn government’s efforts to track down and punish German businessmen who helped Saddam Hussein develop chemical weapons.

But Germany still is not doing enough, Levy complained. He said it was a “nightmare” that gas originating in Germany should be menacing the Jewish state.

Genscher said in response that his country never permitted the export of chemical weapons to Iraq. There were those who broke the law, he said, and vowed that his government would do its utmost to press charges against them.

He assured that Israel could rely on Germany “at this difficult hour.”


Immediately upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, Genscher and his entourage were given gas masks. The German foreign minister said his visit was motivated by the “historic and moral obligation of Germany to the Jewish people.”

He joined Levy and Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat on a tour of one of the sites hit by an Iraqi SCUD missile.

At the end of the tour, Genscher handed Lahat a $3.3 million check, which he said was a “symbolic contribution” to rebuild the devastated area and to indicate that “Germany is affected by everything that happens in Israel.”

The visitors then drove to Ramat Gan, a suburban township just east of Tel Aviv, which suffered the worst damage and casualties from a missile strike on Jan. 22.

Genscher received a hostile reception from many Israelis and pro-Israel activists from abroad as he toured the stricken areas.

The foreign minister is leader of the Free Democratic Party, Kohl’s junior coalition partner.He was accompanied to Israel by Lothar Ruhl, secretary-general of the ruling Christian Democratic Union, and Carl-Dieter Spranger, a minister representing the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.

Hans-Jochen Vogel and Johannes Rau, leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Party, plan a separate visit to Israel.

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