Israelis Ambivalent About Socialist International Delegation’s Visit

There are mixed feelings here over the arrival of the Socialist International delegation from Europe headed by Austria’s Chancellor Bruno Kreisky later this week and the kind of reception they will receive from the Israeli public is uncertain. The Socialist International is still regarded as a major international forum where Israel’s voice is heard and which regards Israel as an important member.

But there is no secret that Israel has lost considerable support among this group, once one of its staunchest allies, and feelings still run high here against Kreisky, despite–or possibly because of–his Jewish origin. Kreisky was the object of bitter criticism in Israel shortly before the Yom Kippur War when he decided to shut down the Jewish Agency’s transit camp for Soviet emigres at Schoenau Castle near Vienna and refused to be moved by Premier Golda Meir’s personal plea to reverse his decision.

He has since made remarks which many Israelis regard as pro-Arab. The delegation he heads is to visit Egypt and Syria as well as Israel for the stated purpose of studying the Middle East situation at first hand to examine conditions for a lasting peace. Another announced aim is to study conditions for economic cooperation between the Arab countries and Europe and between Israel and the European states. Members of the delegation represent the Socialist parties in Sweden, Britain, Italy, West Germany, Holland and Austria.

Kreisky had maintained at first that there was no need to visit Israel because Premier Meir’s views on the Middle East conflict were well known to the Socialist International at whose meetings she had expressed them. But Israel was later included on the itinerary. It will be Kreisky’s first visit to Israel although he has a brother in this country whom he helps support. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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