Jerusalem, 26 November 1996


(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

"No sane person, no leader or moral person can remain quiet or ignore what is happening, as long as it is known that Jewish property which was stolen in the Holocaust is buried in a bank vault or in some private home or another." So said Foreign Minister David Levy yesterday (Monday), November 25, 1996, in Oslo, in a speech delivered to a special conference of the World Jewish Congress, dealing with the question of stolen Jewish property and its return to its rightful owners.

Levy was invited by WJC president Edgar Bronfman to deliver the keynote address. The foreign minister called on governments involved in the issue to make public any information they have, to release documents and to open archives until there is no longer the slightest doubt that all the facts have been exposed regarding the involvement of countries around the world in matters regarding the Jewish property.

The Israeli government, he said, will not rest until everything possible is done to correct this terrible injustice.

"I welcome the progress that has recently been made and the growing readiness of countries to examine, uncover and expose the entire truth about the accounts and the property. There can be no let-up in fulfilling this duty.

"I therefore call on all governments in eastern and western Europe to disclose the whole truth and begin the process of returning the property to its legal owners or their heirs."

Levy expressed appreciation to the Norwegian government for the measures it has recently taken to resolve the question of the property of hundreds of Norwegian Jews who perished in the Holocaust or who were expelled from their country and whose property was never returned to them.

He singled out the activity of the World Jewish Congress and of the Jewish Organization for the Return of Property, calling it "an educational struggle for the perpetuation of the memory of those who perished, and for our younger generation, who will learn the meaning of the concept that "all Jews are responsible for one another."

Beyond the matter of the property itself, and doing an historic justice, there is also an important message regarding the recognition of the states and peoples of their obligation to correct the injustice, even if many years have passed since then.

In the political portion of his speech, the foreign minister said that the Israeli government is committed to continuing the peace process and is sparing no effort, even now, to reach an understanding with the Palestinians on substantive questions relating to implementing the Interim Agreement. Israel, he said, is interested in building a solid foundation for the continuation of the peace process, and he called on the members of the WJC to continue to stand by Israel, in light of the attacks and distortions being heard on all sides. This government, said Levy, believes in the peace process and is doing everything it can to advance it. It will not abandon the security of the settlements and Israelis. "We have a responsibility to the peace process and its continuation, but we also have a responsibility to the country and its security."

Today, Foreign Minister Levy is holding a series of meetings with the Norwegian prime minister and foreign minister, and will also be received by King Harald V.