JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
Israel is buying 100,000 tons of cement from the Soviet Union in the first commercial transaction between the two countries since Moscow severed diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, it was reported here today.
The first consignment–20,000 tons–is expected from Russia next month. It will be the largest single shipment of cement ever to reach Israel and will be carried in an American vessel which will load the cement at a Soviet port after discharging a cargo of U.S. wheat, the report said.
The report, carried by the newspapers Maariv and Yediot Achronot, said the price of the Russian cement is slightly higher than the current price on the international market. It was quoted at $28 a ton at a Russian port and $35 a ton in Israel. But it is not known what price Israel is paying under the deal. Payment will be effected through a third party, the newspapers said.
It has not been disclosed when the deal was made and whether it was negotiated directly by Israel and the USSR or through a third party. While Israel suffers a shortage of cement and must import large quantities, there was no immediate explanation as to why Israel would go to the Soviet market for the product.
The government indicated recently that it intended to encourage the establishment of new cement plants to supplement the Nesher monopoly which has been unable to produce sufficient cement for domestic building needs. Nesher is required to import cement when it falls short of its quotas.