West German Chancellor Willy Brandt today re-affirmed his country’s support of Israel’s existence and said that the Middle East conflict does not leave West Germany “indifferent.” In a policy statement to the Bundestag the Chancellor said that West Germany “wishes to cultivate the traditional friendship with all Arab states” but he added: “The Arabs are beginning to understand that for us Israel’s right to exist is incontestable.”
In his reply, opposition leader Dr. Rainer Barzel of the Christian Democratic Union noted that reconciliation and cooperation with Israel and the Jewish people were an important element of CDU policy from the beginning. He made no mention of the Arabs. Herbert Wehner, Soelal Democratic Party floor leader, attacked Barzel for implying in his remarks on Israel that the SPD had failed to respect Germany’s obligation towards Israel, and that only the CDU had done so. Wehner also criticized Barzel for stating in last autumn’s election campaign that Jews and Israelis could live. in security in West Germany only under a CDU government.
In his 1969 policy statement, Brandt did not mention Israel specifically. This led to sharp criticism from the Israeli public and press. This time. Brandt’s statement seemed to imply that against the background of Nazi atrocities. West Germany supports and defends Israel’s right to existence against aggression.
Meanwhile, Israel government circles here said that diplomatic contacts have been reopened in connection with a visit by Brandt to Israel. Brandt had reportedly dropped his plans to visit Israel following sharp criticism in some Israeli quarters over West Germany’s release of three Arab terrorists involved in the Sept. Munich massacre. The circles said that a date for the visit is expected to be announced soon and that Brandt would go to Israel as head of the German government, not simply as chairman of the Social Democratic Party.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.