Soviet Move Seen As Hopeful Sign

A Soviet diplomat delivered the text of Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev’s recent comments on the Mideast to the Israeli Embassy in Washington last week, it was disclosed here today. Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, who revealed the incident, said it could be a deliberate gesture on the Soviet’s part. “After all, they know we’d read Brezhnev’s statement which was widely reported in the press,” he said.

Avineri would not divulge the rank of the diplomat who delivered the text, nor would he say to whom it was addressed. Brezhnev, addressing the Soviet Trade Union Congress in Moscow two weeks ago, urged phased Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines. He dwelt on Israel’s right to free passage through international waterways. Observers here noted that he did not say much about the Palestinians, and did not mention the PLO.

Since there are no diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Moscow, the direct and personal delivery of the text to the Embassy can be interpreted as a meaningful sign from the Soviets that they want to keep some channels open. There have been similar gestures in the past when official Soviet texts pertaining to the Mideast were handed over to the Washington Embassy or Israel’s UN Mission in New York.

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