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Germany Asked Israel to Keep Arms Deal Secret, Bonn Confirms

July 3, 1959
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The Defense Ministry of West Germany asked Israel not to make the arms deal contract public when it was concluded last October, it was confirmed here today. This was done because Middle East experts in the Foreign Ministry and in the Ministry of Economics here expressed fear that the arms pact with Israel might disturb the relations between the Arab governments and Bonn, it was explained.

Middle East experts in the government here were reported today as expressing dissatisfaction with a statement made to the press in Jerusalem by Moshe Dayan, Israel’s former Chief of Staff, in defense of the arms deal. Mr. Dayan had said in his statement that such arms deliveries could be regarded as a kind of “German obligation” towards Israel, implying strongly that the West German Republic would support the development of Israel’s defense industry and open the way to arms purchases by Israel from the Bonn Government. German officials here reportedly expressed fears that such arguments might bolster Arab charges that West Germany was aiding Israel.

Another disclosure made by the Middle East experts here today was that Israel agreed to place the reparations claims on West Germany as surety for the arms deliveries because the Bonn Defense Ministry had made an advance payment for the $3, 000, 000 worth of grenade throwers ordered from Israel. Such advance payments are customary in international arms contracts.

It was revealed also that the purchase was initially prompted by the fact that the arms wanted by the West German army were being made by a Finnish concern but that the Finish firm could not supply arms to West Germany under Finnish-Soviet treaty agreements. Soltan, Ltd, the Israel firm making the grenade-throwers, reportedly is a subsidiary of the Finnish company.

After the current summer recess, the Social Democratic Party will bring the arms purchase up for discussion in the West German Parliamentary Defense Committee in connection with the opposition party’s general criticism of the Bonn Defense Ministry’s practices in arms deals, it was stated here today.

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