Menu JTA Search

Israeli Leaders Elated

Israeli leaders were elated in their reaction to the news from Washington that the Ford Administration had reached an understanding with Sen. Henry M. Jackson and his colleagues on the Jackson Amendment. The assumption here was that this development will result in a substantially larger number of Jews immigrating to Israel from the Soviet Union. Officials expressed confidence today that Israel will be able to provide the housing and jobs to absorb them.

Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon cabled their thanks and appreciation to President Ford, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Sens. Jackson (D.Wash.), Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) and Abraham Ribicoff (D. Conn.) and Reps. Wilbur Mills (D.Ark.) and Charles Vanik (D.Ohio). The Jackson/Mills-Vanik legislation linking U.S. trade concessions to the USSR to an easing of Soviet emigration policy and an end to the harassment of Russian citizens applying for visas is believed here to have scored a significant break-through with regard to Jewish emigration rights.

While there has been no public commitment from Moscow, the understanding reached between the Ford Administration and the Congressmen is believed to be based on private Soviet assurances to the U.S. that emigration will be increased substantially and harassment will be ended

RABIN HAILS FORD, KISSINGER, JACKSON

Rabin said in his message to Ford: “This achievement in the field of human rights would not have been possible without your personal sympathy for the cause involved…I would wish you to know how deeply this has been appreciated.” Rabin added that Israel and Jews everywhere received the news with “great Joy.”

To Jackson, an old friend of Rabin’s days as Ambassador to the U.S., the Premier wrote:”Dear Scoop….This great achievement would not have been possible but for your personal leadership which allied such wide support in both Houses of Congress. For the endurance with which you pursued this struggle, and for the broad human idealism which motivated your activities on behalf of this great humanitarian cause…I would like to send you my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.”

In his message to Kissinger. Rabin said: “Your role is deeply appreciated by myself, my colleagues. by everyone in Israel…and by Jewish communities throughout the world.” Allon wrote to Kissinger: “I am fully aware of the pitfalls and obstacles you encountered on this long and difficult road. It is additional proof of your extraordinary patience and negotiating skill.”

SAPIR: SIGNIFICANCE OF AGREEMENT

Pinhas Sapir. chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, said, “We all-world Jewry and the Jewish Agency are thankful to all those who helped in this struggle and first and foremost, our appreciation goes to Sen. Jackson and the group of Senators that backed him.” He added that the Senators were not acting in a vacuum but “had the backing not only of the Justice-loving American people but the backing of Jews in America and the world over.”

Addressing himself to the problem of absorbing additional tens of thousands of immigrants from the USSR, Sapir said they fell into three areas: housing; economic absorption; and social absorption. He said housing would be available by March 1976 for 100,000 Immigrants expected to arrive up to then and plans are now underway for housing newcomers from 1976-78. He said he anticipated some difficulties in finding jobs for all of the new comers but was convinced that Israel would overcome the problem.

In the social sphere. Sapir said: “We all must shape up in solving this. It is not a matter for the Establishment but a matter for each of the three million Jews in Israel now to open their hearts to the newcomers.” He said that red tape was being cut and all offices dealing with the absorption of immigrants were being consolidated under one roof.

Simha Landau, director of the Economic Planning Authority at the Finance Ministry, said today that the economy was capable of absorbing as many as 100,000 olim a year without adopting emergency measures, although during the transition period he expected relative difficulties.

NEXT STORY