BONN (Aug. 29)
The German government confirmed Thursday that it has been negotiating for some time with Israel over requests for German economic aid to build housing for Soviet Jewish immigrants.
Dieter Vogel, a government spokesman, said that no decisions have been reached, but that another round of talks with Israeli officials is scheduled for next month.
His announcement was the first official acknowledgement that Germany was even discussing the subject with Israel. Bonn has denied until now that such talks were under way, while stressing that it has long since fulfilled its financial obligations to the Jewish state.
Israel’s request was first made in March, during a visit by Foreign Minister David Levy.
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz said a formal request was submitted by the director general of the Israeli Finance Ministry, Shalom Zinger, who asked for 10 billion marks (about $5.74 billion).
The Finance Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on the report.
The discussions here were kept secret to avoid possible protests from the German public.
The Israelis based their request on the assumption that Bonn would be prepared to assume the political and financial responsibilities of former East Germany.
During its 40 years under Communist rule, East Germany paid no reparations to victims of Nazi persecution. By contrast, billions of dollars were paid by West Germany to Israel and to individual Jewish victims or their heirs.