JERUSALEM (Aug. 29)
As Premier Menachem Begin’s five-day official visit to Rumania was ending today, political observers in Jerusalem were asking whether the journey had been worth it. As reports started to flow in here tonight about Begin’s five-hour meeting earlier in the day with Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the consensus was that it was a “limited success.”
The very fact that a joint communique was being prepared by Begin and Ceausescu was seen as an achievement. The visit which started off Thursday with a cold reception from Rumanian Premier Manea Manescu turned warm when Begin had his first meeting with the Rumanian President on Friday and continued so for the rest of his stay.
It is stressed here that in spite of the open clash at the state dinner between Begin and Manescu over the Palestine Liberation Organization, Rumania is still the only country in East Europe that maintains diplomatic relations with Israel.
It was further stressed here that divergent opin- ions are not only legitimate but natural, and that at least up until now Rumania has not broken diplomatic relations with Israel because of the differences on key political issues in the Middle East area.
ROLE OF RUMANIA ASSESSED
It is also assumed that at one point or another, Rumania still aspires to assume a role of intermediary in the Mideast conflict. It was recalled today that former Premier Golda Meir notes in her memoirs “My Life,” that when she visited Rumania while she was Premier, there was a top secret plan to arrange a meeting for her with “a highly important leader” in the Arab world. Though Mrs. Meir never mentioned the name of the leader whom she was to meet, it is assumed that it was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
The fact that Rumania had once made an attempt to play an important role in the efforts to bring about an agreement in the area was seen here today as an indication that she might still want to play such a role.
This assumption is given further weight by reports from Rumania that Begin has asked Ceausescu to brief the Soviet Union and the Arab countries about their talks. However, observers tend to doubt the importance of the role which Rumania can play in the conflict, though the idea is not altogether rejected.
Meanwhile, the reports which claimed a “mystery” over Begin’s disappearance for a few hours yesterday and assumptions that secret talks might have been held somewhere were firmly denied. Dan Patir, the Premier’s press advisor, said that no secret talks with anyone were held when the Premier’s motorcade was separated from the bus carrying newsmen for several hours while touring Transylvania. Upon Begin’s return, his trip will be evaluated after he gives the government a report of his visit and the talks he held in Rumania.