JERUSALEM (Sep. 19)
The Knesset, meeting in special session today, rejected a motion by the Likud faction to go on record in favor of the Jackson/Mills-Vanik legislation now before the U.S. Congress. The 30-21 vote in effect up held the government’s position of non-interference in what it regards as an internal U.S. matter. There were three abstentions.
Foreign Minister Abba Eban, speaking for the government, said the government had no cause to adopt a position on the Jackson/Mills-Vanik bills which are supported by a majority of Congress but opposed by the Nixon Administration. Recalling that Premier Golda Meir has praised both Congress and the Administration for their efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews’ emigration rights, Eban said the opposition parties were not giving enough credit to the U.S. and other friends of Israel for what has been achieved up to now in that area.
Eban objected to the opposition’s counterposing President Nixon and Sen. Henry M. Jackson on the issue, recalling that the Knesset in the past has praised both the President and the Democratic Senator from Washington for their endeavors to help Russian Jews. This was and is the correct path for Israel’s parliament to follow, Eban said.
He noted that some 80,000 Jews have left the Soviet Union since the first crack appeared in the Iron Curtain three years ago. “This hasn’t satisfied us entirely, but it should not be discounted as an achievement made possible by, among other things, the fact that the Soviet Jewish issue has become a subject high on the U.S. Soviet diplomatic agenda,” Eban said.
NO NEUTRALITY ON ISSUES OF JEWISH CONCERN
Menachem Beigin, speaking for the Gahal wing of Likud, claimed that a Knesset stand on the Jackson Amendment would not constitute undue interference in American internal affairs. He claimed that the concept of interference “perished in Auschwitz.” He said no Jewish parliament or Jewish government could remain neutral on an issue, such as the Jackson Amendment, which concerns the fate of Jews.
Beigin, describing continued harassment of Soviet Jews, said that only a few on the list of 1000 presented by Dr. Henry Kissinger to the Kremlin last May had been allowed to leave, and that while the monthly rate of Jewish emigration from Russia was 2500, hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews want to come to Israel.
Zalman Shuval of the State List, another constituent of Likud, said the Nixon Administration’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” has been given a fair trial and failed. Shmuel Tamir of Likud’s Free Center faction called it a “betrayal” for the Knesset not to debate the Jackson Amendment. Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriah, of the National Religious Party, breached coalition discipline to vote with Likud. He said he felt free to act according to his conscience since he is not running for reelection to the Knesset.