Brezhnev Says Government Changes Should Not Delay Geneva Talks
Menu JTA Search

Brezhnev Says Government Changes Should Not Delay Geneva Talks

Download PDF for this date

Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev said here today that both the Soviet Union and the United States favored reconvening the Geneva conference on Middle East peace this fall and that it should not be delayed because a new government has taken office in Israel. He said it would be nonsense to postpone the conference every time a Middle East government held a general election.

Brezhnev made his remarks at a meeting with President Valery Giscard d’Estaing at Rambouillet Castle where he is staying during his two-day state visit to France. French official circles meanwhile have expressed concern that the tough policy adopted by the new Israeli government headed by Premier Menachem Begin could affect a Mideast peace settlement. They said the composition of Begin’s Cabinet, consisting of nationalist and religious elements, confirmed their fears. But the officials added that the Begin government’s slim parliamentary majority may force it to moderate its policies.

Brezhnev had sharp words for President Carter, during his meeting with Giscard with respect to Carter’s campaign for human rights in the USSR. He was quoted as telling his French host that Carter was waging “ideological warfare” rather than engaging in “ideological competition” against the Soviet Union. Giscard was reported to have affirmed, however, that respect for human rights and freedoms was a key issue in efforts to relax East-West tensions.

CRIF CANCELS RALLY

More than 3000 French police have been put on full time duty to protect the Soviet visitor, including 600 at Rambouillet Castle alone. Police have banned all street demonstrations protesting the Soviet treatment of Jews and dissidents. The Representative Council of French Jews (CRIF) cancelled a rally for Soviet Jews that was planned outside the Paris Opera House tonight. The opera is close to Intourist, the Soviet tourist office, which has been closed for the duration of Brezhnev’s visit.

But 1500 persons attended a peaceful mass meeting in a Paris hall last night to protest Soviet policies of discrimination against Jews and dissidents.

POLICE, JEWISH DEMONSTRATORS CLASH

But later this evening, police clashed with Jewish demonstrators who had turned up at the opera unaware that the CRIF had cancelled the rally after the ban was imposed. Two men and two women were taken to the hospital for treatment after a truncheon charge without warning scattered 1000 people. The would-be demonstrators then moved off to the Great Synagogue where they were addressed by France’s Chief Rabbi, Jacob Kaplan.

On the Champs Elysees, where Brezhnev had laid his wreath at the Unknown Soldier’s Monument two hours earlier, right-wingers set fire to Soviet flags. The police made several arrests after truncheon charges during which a TV cameraman received head injuries. After the clash at the opera, the CRIF issued a press statement in which it accused the police of charging “a peaceful crowd without warning.” The statement said: “Regardless of the requirements of diplomacy, the Jewish community of France intends to carry on its humanitarian fight for Soviet Jews’ rights to emigrate and to preserve their own culture.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund