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Begin, Dulzin Meet on Soviet Dropouts

Premier Menachem Begin met today with Jewish Agency Executive chairman Leon Dulzin on the problem of Soviet Jewish “dropouts” Soviet emigrants who choose to immigrate to destinations other than Israel on reaching Western Europe. Minister of Immigration and Absorption David Levy and Jewish Agency Immigration Department head Raphael Kotlowitz were also present at the meeting.

“We have turned to those Jewish organizations in the U.S. which assist the Russian emigrants, HIAS and the Joint Distribution Committee, to help in deciding on ways to reduce the dropout rate,” Dulzin said after the meeting. Levy added that alternative ways of reducing the number of dropouts were discussed, but declined to specify.

One of the ideas brought by the immigration officials to Begin was that if the dropouts knew more about Israel and about what Israel can offer Soviet Jewish emigrants on reaching Vienna, more of them would choose to immigrate to Israel.

On other matters, the World Zionist Organization Executive issued a statement today protesting the ideas of Prof. Raanan Weitz, head of its settlements department, on the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Executive noted that the timing of the pronouncement on the eve of the Camp David summit was “unfortunate and mistaken.” The decision was taken with the support of Weitz.

Dulzin added that the WZO Executive does not follow its own foreign policy, and that if Weitz wants to remain in his position he must remain subordinate to the government’s decisions.

Weitz expressed surprise by the reaction to his views. Noting that his opinions closely followed those of the Labor Party, Weitz sent a message to Labor Party head Shimon Peres, in which he said he did not express support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Calling the reaction to his views “an artificial uproar,” he said he merely pointed to the establishment of a Palestinian state as a possible alternative. Meanwhile the Likud Knesset faction’s executive demanded Weitz’s resignation and note that today’s Executive decision on the Weitz issue was “insufficient.”

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