JERUSALEM (Oct. 1)
An angry Knesset met in special session today to discuss Austria’s decision to close the Schoenau immigrant transit camp and adopted a resolution calling on Austria to continue to provide transit facilities. (See separate story.) Acting Premier Yigal Allon began the debate with stinging criticism of Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky whose concession to Arab terrorist hijackers last Friday touched off a world-wide furore.
Unlike Premier Meir, who, in addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg today, spoke more in sorrow than in anger about the Austrian move and stressed that country’s past help to Jewish refugees, Allon declared that Austria’s previous aid was not a special kindness but an elementary human right. It is inconceivable, Allon said, that Austria should single out Jews in particular to deny them alone this humanitarian aid.
The debate, before a packed house, brought the Knesset out of its summer recess. The gravity Israel attaches to the developments in Austria was further emphasized by the presence of President Ephraim Katzir in the Knesset.
The Austrian Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Johanna Nestor, listened intently from the visitors gallery and took notes from the simultaneous translation. Later, during an interview on Radio Israel, she denied that Soviet or Arab pressure had forced her government to close the transit facility. She also denied that Austria had already been considering closing down the camp and had used the kidnapping incident as an excuse to do so.
WARNING NOT TO SUCCUMB TO TERRORISM
Allon issued a “warning and a protest to the Austrian government and to the enlightened world not to succumb to terrorism” He said he could understand why Kreisky found the term “capitulation” unpleasant and what associations it conjured up for him, a reference to the supine surrender of the Austrian government to Nazi Germany in 1938. But the term is applicable, Allon said, and Israel will continue to apply it until the Austrian decision is revoked.
Referring to a New York Times story from Vienna this morning which said that Kreisky had been planning some changes in the facilities provided Jewish emigres from the Soviet Union, Allon said he didn’t know what Kreisky had in mind, but that in any event, after the terrorist hijack in Austria last Friday, any change would be out of place because it could be construed as surrender to extortion.
Allon gave voice to speculation, advanced by some olim who arrived from Austria yesterday, that Soviet collusion may have been involved in the terrorist hijacking of the Moscow-Vienna express carrying Jewish emigrants. “One must seriously suggestion how the terrorists travelled through Czechoslovakia with their weapons and remained undetected,” Allon said. He suggested that “certain parties” may have ignored or even collaborated with the terrorists.
MEETING WITH KREISKY CRITICIZED
The Knesset debate, called for yesterday by the Likud party with the government’s prompt concurrence, heard criticism of Premier Meir for agreeing to set up a meeting with Kreisky in Vienna. Zalman Abramov of Likud’s Gahal wing, said such a meeting was out of place.
He also attacked the government for permitting Ambassador Yitzhak Patish to return to Vienna today following his call home Friday for consultations. Patish should have been kept here until this thing sorted itself out, Abramov said, adding, “We hope Austria does not force us into a confrontation but if it does we shall confront it and we shall triumph.” Dr. Elimelech Rimault, a leader of Likud and one of the leaders of the Israel-Austrian Friendship League, called yesterday on members of the League to resign in protest against the Austrian decision.