JERUSALEM (Nov. 11)
Israel’s foreign policy establishment has come under heavy fire from political circles and the press here for allegedly neglecting to cultivate ties with Ronald Reagan and the Republicans in general during the recent U.S. election campaign.
Israel’s Ambassador in Washington, Ephraim Evron, is bearing the brunt of these charges and demands have been made publicly for his prompt replacement. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir was questioned critically by two of his colleagues at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting about Israel’s preparations for the Republican victory.
Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz and Health Minister Eliezer Shostak implied in their questions that Israel had been led to believe by its Embassy in Washington that President Carter would be reelected and therefore failed to forge links with the Reagan camp. Shamir denied the charge.
A high official close to Premier Menachem Begin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that there were “good reasons” for Evron’s removal. The same official predicted, however, that he would not be recalled in the foreseeable future. (The Embassy in Washington was closed today because of Veterans Day and officials could not be reached for comment.)
ISSUE OF REAGAN-BEGIN NOT MEETING
Much of the criticism stems from the Fact that President-elect Reagan has declined to meet with Begin during the latter’s current visit to the U.S. Reagan indicated, in reply to a question at a Los Angeles press conference last week, that he did not want to appear to be intervening in Presidential affairs before his inauguration next January.
While that applied to all foreign leaders, Maariv contended today that it amounted to a slight of Begin. Maariv diplomatic correspondent Yosef Harif suggested that either Evron or a Begin aide who preceded the Premier to the U.S. were to blame for trying to arrange a meeting without having been instructed by Begin to do so.
Evron was accused by Maariv and by Haaretz of being too close to the Democratic Party during his tenure as Ambassador and even earlier when he occupied lesser diplomatic posts in the U.S. One official accused him of “unstatesmanlike” conduct for naming Israel’s friends and foes in the new Congress on an Israel television interview over the weekend.
REAGAN SEEN CLOSER TO ISRAEL’S VIEWS
The government has made no effort to conceal its pleasure with Reagan’s election victory. Acting Premier Yigael Yadin declared on a radio interview Sunday night, after the weekly Cabinet session which he chaired in Begin’s absence, that Reagan’s positions on Israel are “much closer to our national consensus.”
He cited Reagan’s campaign positions and statements in which the Republican candidate branded the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization and rejected the contention by the Carter Administration that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal.
Yadin said Reagan’s statements on Jerusalem and a Palestinian state were “more positive” and “much more accommodating” from Israel’s point of view. Several other ministers also praised Reagan’s positions. Foreign Minister Shamir did not disagree with the hopes expressed for closer Israeli-U.S. ties under a Reagan Administration. He cautioned, however, that it is still too early to know who will hold the key offices in the Reagan Administration. Whoever they are they are likely to have a crucial impact on policy-making after the new Administration takes office, he said.
Shamir also contended that the Israel Embassy sought to cultivate contacts with Reagan’s supporters during the campaign while at the same time it was careful not to stray beyond the bounds of diplomatic propriety.