JERUSALEM (Mar. 23)
Israeli diplomats overseas, particularly those in Asia, have been instructed by the Israel Government not to involve themselves in talks with South Viet Nam representatives because of Israel’s refusal to establish diplomatic relations with the Saigon regime under present circumstances, it was learned here today.
Those instructions were the latest development in Israeli efforts to deal with complications arising from an announcement in Washington, by the South Viet Nam Ambassador to the United States, that agreement had been reached in negotiations between the two countries for such diplomatic exchanges.
Under a decision of the Israel Foreign Ministry, Israel will continue to withhold recognition of both North and South Viet Nam. Political sources here stressed that Israel’s stand was based on a desire to avoid involvement in Soviet-United States differences over the South Viet Nam situation.
Those sources recalled that, in the late 1950’s, Israel proposed diplomatic relations to South Viet Nam, and that Saigon then refused, apparently out of fear of Arab reprisal in the form of recognition of North Viet Nam. Authoritative sources said that Israel now did not intend to move away from its non-recognition stand because of “outside pressure, ” which was understood to be a reference to the Johnson Administration.
In recent months, the United States had increasingly pressed Israel to aid the Saigon regime within the framework of a U.S. effort to align world support for South Viet Nam. The United States even included Israel in a list published in Washington of countries aiding South Viet Nam. The sources here emphasized that the only aid Israel has provided the Saigon regime was medical help after devastating floods two years ago.
The issue continued to evoke wide comment in the Israeli press. Haaretz urged Israeli recognition of South Viet Nam on grounds that “Israel should establish diplomatic relations with all countries without consideration as to political regimes or alignments. ” The leftist Al Hamishmar and Lamerhav strongly supported the Foreign Ministry’s stand, and criticized any Israel involvement in the Saigon struggle. Hayom, the organ of Gahal, the fusion of some Liberals and Herut, argued against any aid with military overtones, such as the Nahal program of soldier-farmers in Israeli border settlements, but supporting humanitarian aid. The Saigon Ambassador had specifically referred to hopes of his Government for Israeli help in creating units in South Viet Nam along Nahal patterns.