The Road to Wassenaar: How the Decision on Direct Negotiations Between Israel and Germany Was Approved
The article examines the dynamics that resulted in the Israeli government and Knesset approving the opening of reparations negotiations with West Germany. The article is framed by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s September 27, 1951 declaration before the Bundestag regarding the German people’s responsibility for the crimes committed against the Jewish people, and the January 10, 1952 Knesset vote approving negotiations. This was a dramatic issue not only because of the sensitive subject, but also because the forces arrayed for and against negotiations were even. It was not clear almost until the last moment which way the vote would go, which led the government to try to lower the public profile of the discussion of Germany. The government’s legitimacy was also on the public agenda, and the negotiations debate represented the climax of an ongoing effort by certain political elements on the Right and the Left to delegitimize the government. The government’s success in the Knesset vote led not only to the opening of reparations negotiations with Germany, but also to the end of the efforts to delegitimize the government.