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Presidents Conference Favors Mfn Extension for Rumania: Warns It Will Monitor Emigration of Jews

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Saying that it would be good for the United States, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations gave a qualified endorsement to another one-year extension of most-favored-nation (MFN) status for Rumania and warned Bucharest that the emigration of Jews from that East European country would be closely monitored.

Jack Spitzer, president of B’nai B’rith International, in testimony yesterday before the Senate International Trade Subcommittee on behalf of the Presidents Conference, took the Rumanian government to task, pointing out that there is a great disparity between the number of passports issued by the regime of President Ceaucescu and the number of Jews actually leaving.

Spitzer said “bureaucratic delays,” “people changing their minds,” and departures deferred until completion of the school year could account for part of the difference. “Still the discrepancies between passports issued and departures have been exceedingly large,” Spitzer said. As a result, the Presidents Conference has been compelled to question the impact of the figures the Romanian are providing.

“If the departures for the remainder of 1980 are to reflect the volume of passports issued earlier in the year, we think it is reasonable to expect last year’s departure rate to be equaled.” The B’nai B’rith president told the hearing that “the test of emigration is not how many passports are approved, but how many people who want to leave are actually free to leave.”

The Conference of Presidents “wants to believe Rumania will meet the test” and its confidence in last year’s agreement between the Conference and the Rumanian government on the issue of immigration “will remain unshaken,” Spitzer said.

Because of that and “other commendable aspects of Rumanian policy, such as the country’s independence of the Soviet Union and its good relationship with the United States, Israel and other Western states,” the Conference favors another extension of MFN status for Rumania, Spitzer said.

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