German finance minister to visit Israel

Steinbrueck to meet with Holocaust survivors; reports: Germany may make additional reparations.

holocaust survivors 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
holocaust survivors 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck is expected to arrive in Israel next Wednesday to meet with representatives of groups that advocate for Holocaust survivors. Former Israeli consul in Berlin Shimon Stein told Army Radio on Thursday that the German government would expand its reparations agreement with Isarel. "If the government decides that it wants to begin negotiations with Germany, it will find the German government willing to talk," he said. According to Army Radio, Germany has asked to meet with survivors rather than representatives of Israel's government. The reason given was a desire to learn from the survivors themselves about their day-to-day hardships. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Germany would be willing to consider making extra pension payments to Holocaust survivors, should the Israeli government request that it do so. The report quoted German government spokesman Thomas Steg as saying that if further negotiations of the matter are needed, then Germany "would not refuse talks." Last week, Ha'aretz reported that Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, the minister in charge of the talks with Germany on reparations for Holocaust survivors and retrieving Jewish property, was reported as seeking to renegotiate the agreement with Germany. A spokeswoman for Eitan later clarified the minister's remarks to the German news agency DPA. She was quoted as saying Eitan did not wish to renegotiate the agreement, but instead wanted Israeli and German officials to discuss ways of finding funds to cover costs not taken into account when the original agreement was signed.