TEL AVIV, JAN. 24 -- Under sharp criticism for Germany's low profile in the Persian Gulf war and for the role some of its private firms played in Iraq's development of chemical weapons, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said his country bears a "certain historic responsibility" for Israel and will stand by it to safeguard its existence.
Besides promising $165 million in immediate humanitarian aid, Genscher said Germany will tighten its laws to prevent export of materials and technology that could be used to produce weapons such as chemical and biological warheads.
"We have come at an hour of danger for Israel. . . . You can count on the Germans," Genscher said, as a small group of demonstrators with gas masks protested outside the Jerusalem hotel where he and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy held a news conference.
Attention on Germany intensified after disclosures that a German firm helped build Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's underground bunker and other German companies helped Iraq make poison gas.
At the news conference, Levy bitterly condemned Germany, France and other countries that, he said, had sold Iraq arms. "They have produced a monster," he said. "Saddam Hussein is threatening to burn Israel. He has chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and they are all coming from German soil."
In Bonn, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl condemned the Iraqi missile attacks on Israel as brutal acts of terror, and promised to negotiate with the United States to provide additional funds for the allied forces in Saudi Arabia.