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Diplomatic Efforts Continue to Obtain Release of 5 WZO Emissaries Arrested Last Week in Argentina

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Diplomatic efforts continued in Buenos Aires and Jerusalem today to obtain the release of five World Zionist Organization shlichim who were arrested last week in Cordoba, Argentina.

Shlomo Avineri, director general of the Foreign Ministry, met today with Portela Pico, the Argentine Charge d’Affaires here, and informed him of the government’s concern over the detention of the Israelis. Pico promised he would relay the concern to the Argentine government and seek an immediate reply.

Avineri expressed to Pico the wish that what he called a “misunderstanding” would soon be resolved and the Israelis freed. Sources in Jerusalem also expressed confidence that the matter was a result of a “misunderstanding.” But they said it will probably take a long time to be resolved.

They cited as an example the recent case of an Israeli scientist who was held in a Turkish prison for two weeks after he bought some old weapons and was charged with illegal possession of weapons and trying to smuggle them out of the country. He was freed, but not before a long process of diplomatic negotiations, the sources said.

IN TOUCH WITH ISRAELI AMBASSADOR

Intensive consultations took place yesterday between Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and WZO chairman Yosef Almogi. They were in constant touch with Ram Nir Gad, the Israeli Ambassador in Buenos Aires, but he does not have at the latest report, any news of the Israelis.

The five Israelis who were arrested Thursday after attending a Zionist seminar in Cordoba are Mr.and Mrs. Yitzhak Estrugo, of Kibbutz Bahan; Mr. and Mrs. Yosef Pick, of Tel Aviv; and Amnon Rudin, of Jerusalem. Two local employes of the WZO were also arrested after the seminar which was sponsored by the El Committee, a local youth movement affiliated with Ihud Hakvutzot VeHakibutzim, the Labor Zionist kibbutz movement in Israel.

Estrugo made aliya nine years ago from Argentina, and returned as an emissary last December with his wife, Clara, and their children Tamir 6. and Ilan. 3. Yosef and Catalina Pick went to Argentina in September 1975 with their daughters Maya, 3, and Galia, 1. Rudin, the son of a senior police officer, left for Argentina in July 1975 with his wife, Malka, and their daughters, Sigal, 6, and Leah, 2 1/2. Rudin’s wife was not detained, and was reportedly in her Buenos Aires home.

There are about 15 Israeli emissaries in Argentina, who serve as guides in various youth movements. In addition to the five emissaries arrested, the two local WZO employes who were arrested have still not been identified.

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