JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
Premier Menachem Begin, who is visiting Rumania, is scheduled to have a second meeting with President Nicholae Ceausescu tomorrow in which they will concentrate on the prospects of a Middle East settlement and the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in negotiations.
The two leaders discussed these issues, along with the problem of reuniting Rumanian Jews with their families in Israel, during their first meeting Friday. But the issue of the PLO appears to be the main point of difference between the Rumanians and the Israelis.
Rumanian leaders constantly stressed to Begin their belief that the PLO must be included in the settlement process. Begin in turn emphasized that the PLO wanted to destroy Israel and cited the PLO’s rejection Friday of United Nations Resolution 242 as an example of the terrorist organization’s true character.
BEGIN CLASHES WITH MANESCU
Despite the differences, Begin’s meeting with Ceausescu was considered much warmer than the cool reception he received on his arrival in Bucharest Thursday followed by a public clash with Rumanian Premier Manea Manescu. The clash occurred at a state dinner Thursday night when Manescu, in his toast of welcome, urged the PLO’s participation at Geneva and called for total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state. Departing from his prepared text, Begin said “it is my sad duty to inform you that the PLO wants to annihilate the Jewish State. No country would conduct negotiations with such an organization.”
Manescu had also expressed Rumania’s concern “at the giving of legal status to, and the establishment of, new Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as the extension to the West Bank and Gaza Strip of the Israel Public Service legislation.” To this Begin replied that the Six-Day War had been a war of self-defense and that such wars do result in boundary changes under international law.
During the picture-taking session between Begin and the Rumanian President on Friday, reporters were allowed to hear the conversation between the two which centered on the sacrifice that the Rumanian and the Jewish people had made against Nazism. “In 1944 you had to liberate yourself from the Nazi yoke and we, too, had to fight for national liberation in our country,” Begin said. Ceausescu said millions died in the war, “therefore now we must do everything we possibly can to avoid another war, to build peace.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that Begin spent the Sabbath with the Bucharest Jewish community and attended services in the synagogue, which he termed as “the most moving day in my life since the day Israel declared here independence.” When a choir of boys and girls sang the popular song, “Jerusalem of Gold,” composed shortly after Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, Begin wept openly.
The Sabbath was brought in early at the huge synagogue on the instructions of Chief Rabbi Moshe Rosen, to enable the Israeli and American TV crews covering the visit to record the Premier’s address to the congregation. During the address, Begin choked up as he spoke to the packed synagogue “in the language that my mother spoke to me-Yiddish.”
He dwelt on the Holocaust, and on the meaning of Israel’s independence-the reassurance that Jews would not be led defenseless to the slaughter ever again. “We have a broad and beautiful country,” Begin said, “big enough for all the Jews who want to come and live in it.”
Yesterday, Begin also attended synagogue services where he was called up for the maftir and read in firm and dramatic voice the haftara from Isaiah prophesying redemption for Zion and the ingathering of the exiles. At a kiddush after the service Begin spoke again in Yiddish, assuring the congregation of better days ahead.
RELIGIOUS, STATE OFFICIALS AT RECEPTION
The Rumanian Orthodox Patriarch Justin Moisescu was among the guests at a reception last night at the Jewish Community Center in honor of Begin. Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic and Protestant prelates were also present, as well as the city’s Moslem Imam Regups Ali, and the director of the government’s Department of Culture.
Begin invited them all to visit Jerusalem, assuring the Moslem dignitary of true Oriental hospitality “in the spirit of our common ancestor, Abraham.” Begin went out of his way, the Post reported, to praise the Rumanian government, singling out Ceausescu for his policy of tolerance toward religious practice. Begin spent today touring the countryside accompanied by the Rumanian President.