A Foreign Ministry spokesman said this week-end that Israel welcomed recent statements by Dr. Leopold Figl, Austrian Chancellor, announcing his country’s readiness to negotiate with the appropriate Jewish bodies on Jewish restitution claims in Austria.
The spokesman noted that questions of the return of Jewish property, indemnification and the transfer of heirless Jewish property had been long awaiting settlement. The Austrian Government, he said, would be wise to call for early negotiations with authoritative Jewish bodies.
The free world, the spokesman said, would judge Austria’s political demands in the light of her endeavors to make amends for the injustice done to the Jews of Austria during the Nazi regime. He said that Israel was “astonished” by remarks by Austrian Vice-Chancellor Dr. Adolf Schaerf, which he described as unjustified and reminiscent of a political inheritance not compatible with the declared policies of a democratic government.
(The New York Times reported from Vienna today that the prospects of settling the claims of former Austrian Jews against the Austrian Government for wrongs inflicted by the Nazis “seem to be brighter. The dispatch stated that Austrian Finance Minister Reinhard Kamitz, who discussed the issue with Jewish organizations during his recent visit to New York, has raised the question with his government and “so far negotiations are going well.”)
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