WASHINGTON (May. 10)
Rumors spread by Soviet officials and others that large numbers of Soviet Jewish immigrants in Israel wish to leave for other parts was firmly put down by Secretary of State William P. Rogers.
Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Rogers said yesterday that the number of immigrants dissatisfied with Israel and wishing to leave was “miniscule.” As with any nation where there is a large influx of immigrants, he said, there are those who cannot make the adjustment. He complimented Israel on its absorption of the immigrants.
Rogers made the statements under questioning of Rep. Jerry L. Pettis (R. Calif.), a member of the Committee which is holding hearings on the trade reform bill proposed by the Nixon Administration which would include a provision allowing the President to grant most favored nation status to the Soviet Union;, When Pettis asked Rogers whether Israel had reached its maximum capability in absorbing immigrants, Rogers replied that he could not determine specifically at what level the maximum would be reached but he felt Israel could absorb many more immigrants.
At the Soviet-American trade conference here in March, Soviet officials spread the word that “thousands” of Soviet Jews in Israel were anxious to get out of that country. Information distributed by the Soviet Embassy recently declared 10,000 of those immigrants wanted to leave Israel
In his testimony, Rogers said that 60,000 Soviet Jews had reached Israel in the past three years and that the average monthly emigration rate this year is 2500. He said he shared “the deep concern” of the majority in the Congress about Soviet emigration practices “both officially and personally,” but declared that change would be more likely from a “steady improvement in our overall relations with the Soviet Union” rather than in a “confrontation” that legislation would entail.
Meanwhile, the number of representatives favoring legislation denying MFN status rose to 280 yesterday when Reps. Dan Young (R.Alaska) and Mrs. Lindy Boggs (D.La.), widow of Majority Leader Hale Boggs, joined the list. Rep. Wilbur Mills (D.Ark.) announced their adherence to the legislation bearing his name and that of Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D.Ohio).