Menu JTA Search

Former East German Communist Urges Renewal of Ties with PLO

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A former East German Communist leader is urging Germany to renew contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization that were maintained by the defunct German Democratic Republic.

Gregor Gysi, who met with PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Tunis this past weekend, said he would urge Germany to renew parts of the treaty the old Communist regime had with the PLO.

That accord, among other things, provided military training on German soil for Palestinian terrorists, possibly including the group that massacred the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972.

“One could understand that some military and security provisions in the treaty would not be applied. However, there is no reason to cancel humanitarian parts of the agreement,” Gysi said.

His proposal got a cold reception in Bonn. “Obviously, the now-united Germany does not intend to adopt the practices of the former Communist dictatorship in the eastern part of the country,” an official here said.

In any event, officials point out that whatever agreements East Germany had with the PLO became void when that regime was dissolved as a political entity.

But the PLO has been pressing Germany since its unification last October to resume the various training and aid programs once provided by the GDR.

Gysi says Bonn should provide grants for Palestinian students or make medical help available to the PLO to treat its casualties.

Gysi heads the Party of the Democratic Left, or PDS, a far left-wing faction composed of many former members of Stasi, the notorious East German secret police.

An East Berlin office with close links to the PDS said to still be providing some forms of assistance to the PLO.

The party is successor to the old Communist Party that ruled East Germany. Gysi served briefly as its chairman after longtime Communist boss Erich Honecker was ousted.

Gysi, whose father was Jewish, visited Israel earlier this year and vowed to break with his party’s anti-Semitic, anti-Israel traditions.

NEXT STORY