German-French arms sales to Arab countries and meetings between German politicians and leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization were strongly condemned at a press conference here by visiting Knesset member Moshe Arens of Likud. Arens, who is chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, expressed the view that Germany–like other Western countries–supports Israel “for the wrong reasons, “that is, “because of the tragic past” rather than because of Israel’s current role in supporting Western democratic principles.
Arens was invited here by the Bundestag. At the end of his visit he said he did “not come with any specific mission.” However, he added, in talks with senior Bonn foreign, defense and science ministry officials he had emphasized “the fact that there is an on-going process of massive shipments of anti-tank missiles to the Middle East in which the German company MBB and its French partner, Aerospatiale, are sending not insignificant quantities of high quality anti-tank missiles to Syria which are definitely superior to those the Syrians have received from the USSR in the past.” He said this was causing Israel “grave concern” from both a military and a political point of view.
He said, “It is hard to understand why countries on amicable terms with us and who support us, simultaneously provide dangerous equipment to countries in a state of war with us. If hostilities should break out again this would force Israel to pay a price in terms of lives.” He pointed out that the problem was not confined to the Syrian anti-tank missile purchase, but that other German-French arms deals were underway with Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, including “possible agreement” on the establishment of an Arab arms industry in Egypt. “We also have seen in the media that German Leopard tanks made under license in Italy have turned up in Libya.”
Asked about contacts between the PLO and members of the ruling Social Democratic Coalition in Bonn, Arens said such contacts were “completely incomprehensible in view of Germany’s own problem with terrorists. I find it hard to believe that they don’t know of the relations between terrorists in all regions and the brutality which characterizes the PLO and which to us is reminiscent of Nazi times.” One positive impression Arens noted after his first visit here, is Germany’s achievement in “building up and strengthening democratic institutions so that today it is a member of the democratic community of nations.”
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.