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Report Czech Jews Gratified, Relieved over Outcome of Conferences

Czechoslovakian Jews were gratified and deeply relieved by the outcome of last week’s conferences at Cierna and Bratislava which apparently cleared the way for the continuation of the liberalization measures undertaken by the new Czech Communist regime. Jews are no longer afraid to express open sympathy for Israel and such expressions of support have been heard from many non-Jewish Czech citizens and officials. But there is little likelihood that diplomatic relations with Israel, severed after the June, 1967 Middle East war, will be re-established in the near future.

This is the assessment gained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s correspondent in talks with various qualified observers of the political scene here. The reference to “Israeli aggression” contained in the final communique issued at the meeting of the six East European Communist parties in Bratislava last Saturday is not taken too seriously here. Observers said that the anti-Israel passage was a concession to the East German Communist Party chief Walter Ulbricht who is regarded as the most anti-Israel of all East European leaders.

There is also, according to local observers, an understandable reluctance to arouse the ire of the Soviet Union and thus possibly jeopardize the gains achieved at the Cierna conference. For that reason, informed circles close to the Czech Foreign Ministry say unofficially that for the near future, at least, there is no chance of re-establishing diplomatic relations between Prague and Jerusalem. However, sources here said that the continuation of internal liberalization policies by the Czech Government is bound to lead to a more independent foreign policy. In that case, normalization of relations with Israel would be one of the first steps taken. Optimists say this might come about within a year.

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