JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
The Soviet Union has told United States State Department officials that the Soviet Foreign Ministry has recommended to Syria that it release the two Israelis still being held from the American Trans-World airliner hijacked to Damascus last Friday, the newspaper Haaretz reported today.
Quoting “well-informed sources,” Haaretz said the Soviet Union’s recommendation had been connected with the possible forthcoming United Nations Security Council meeting on the Al Aksa mosque fire in East Jerusalem on Aug. 21. By continuing to hold the Israelis, the Syrians might prejudice the Arab case in the meetings, the Russians are said to believe.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations, differences between Arab and non-Arab Moslem countries over political exploitation of the mosque fire has still prevented agreement on the form of a draft resolution to be presented to the Council if it convenes.
(In Washington, the State Department today was confronted by a demarche by 13 Moslem nations ranging from radical to conservative who joined in a demand for the United States to pressure Israel out of the Old City of Jerusalem because of the Al Aksa mosque fire. The Moslem envoys met with Under-Secretary of State Elliott Richardson and other officials. They said that the 13 Moslem nations, some of which are very friendly to the U.S., were “shocked” by the “incredible act of arson” for which they held the Israeli occupation responsible. The diplomats represented Pakistan, Iran, Maldive, Malaysia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Somalia, Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Niger.
(Mr. Richardson told the delegation that the U.S. shared the wide concern the fire had aroused and indicated that the State Department would “weigh carefully” the views expressed by the Moslems. Mr. Richardson also reiterated and reviewed previous expressions of concern by the U.S. over the fire.)
In Jerusalem, Mrs. Naomi Samueloff, wife of Prof. Shlomo Samueloff, a teacher at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and one of the Israelis held in Syria, appealed yesterday for world public opinion to apply pressure for release of the pair. She said, “I think a big Government like America can find a way to obtain the release of the two,” and said Israel should not exchange Arab terrorists for the Israelis as such action would set a dangerous precedent.
(In a letter to The New York Times today, Mrs. Faye L. Schenk, national president of Hadassah, said there was irony in Syria’s detention of Prof. Samueloff. She noted he has “been investigating man’s acclimatization to desert environments…research…likely to benefit the Arabs themselves.”)