JERUSALEM (Feb. 17)
Twenty thousand Jews have received exit permits in Rumania during the last two weeks. Those permits are good only for travel to Israel–and not for any other country in the world.
These facts were learned authoritatively here today. It was also established firmly that the 20,000 in the last two weeks are but a fraction of the vast number of Jews now registered for emigration from Rumania under new regulations put into effect by the Bucharest Government. Issuance of the new regulations dispelled rumors that Rumania intended to curb the outpouring of the Jews bound for Israel.
The new regulations were seen here as actually an improvement, because they provide that the exit visa is valid for three months, as against four weeks under previous rules. This gives the emigrant more time to dispose of his property.
Under the new rules, departing Jews receive no emigration passports, but only a special card valid for Israel carrying a transit visa and an Israel entrance visa. These documents are obtained not by the emigrant, directly but by the Rumanian authorities.
The emigrant thus has no direct contact either with the Israel Consulate in Rumania or with the consulate of any countries through which he would pass in transit. This special card is not recognized by any government, other than Israel, as a valid identity document. None of the Rumanian Jews, therefore, could go to any country except Israel.
Jewish Agency authorities, discussing the sources of the new immigration, stress that not a single Jewish immigrant has come from Russia during the last few months. About 70 percent of all immigrants during the past two months are from East Europe, primarily Rumania.
There is still no definite knowledge among Israel officials as to how may Jews will arrive this year from Rumania, but a great number is anticipated.
Reports that Rumanian immigration was approved by the Kremlin as a form of pressure on President Nasser of the United Arab Republic are considered by authoritative sources here as having no foundation. It was pointed out that Rumania started to allow mass emigration in August, when relations between Nasser and the Soviet leaders were still good. It was also noted that the decision to permit this emigration must have been taken in June, when Nasser was still openly pro-Soviet.
Jewish Agency officials are more concern with the financial problems created by the immigration than with speculation as to why the Rumanian Government decided to permit it. Transportation and maintenance in transit costs the Agency about $200 per emigrant, aside from the cost of housing and settling the newcomers in Israel. Israel Jews consequently are looking toward American Jewry in anticipation that every American Jew will fully understand the emergency, and contribute his maximum.