Jerusalem (Sep. 27)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said his 90-minute meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in New York last Thursday was of value but “there is no change” in the Soviet attitude toward Israel. “I am sorry I cannot herald any end to the freeze,” Shamir said in a radio interview from New York over the weekend.
Nevertheless, members of the Knesset delegation just returned from an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Havana, said they found evidence of a thaw in the Communist bloc toward relations with Israel. Moshe Shahal, a Labor Alignment member of the delegation, said that delegates from East Germany and Hungary told the Knesset members that their countries were pressing strongly in Eastern bloc institutions for the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel which were severed during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Shahal said these delegates had been “explicit in their statements” which were made in coordination with the Soviet Union and that Shamir’s meeting with Gromyko was evidence of such coordination. Victor Shemtov, Secretary General of Mapam, also welcomed the Shamir-Gromyko meeting and said any such contact was for the good. He criticized “certain ministers” who claimed recently that Israel was the “spearhead of anti-Sovietism” in the Middle East. Shemtov warned that a great deal of harm was done by such statements.
MAIN VALUE OF SHAMIR-GROMYKO TALKS
Shamir said the main value of his talk with Gromyko was the fact that contacts between Israel and the USSR on the ministerial level were renewed after being halted five years ago. The last Israeli Foreign Minister to meet with Gromyko was the late Yigal Allon who served in the Labor-led government. According to Israel Radio, Shamir brought up the issue of the situation of Soviet Jews as well as a wide range of problems relating to relating relations between the two countries and the Middle East.
Shamir said his conversation with the Soviet diplomat “gave the Russians a chance to hear our point of view once again, at first hand.” He said the Russians regard Jewish emigration and the “Prisoners of Zion” to be part of their policy toward Israel. He said he raised the question of direct air flights from Moscow to Israel for emigrants. Gromyko did not reply directly but Shamir said he understood the Soviet Foreign Minister was opposed to mass Jewish emigration that ended up in the U.S.
According to Shamir, the Soviet Union has “not budged an inch” since 1947 when it supported the United Nations General Assembly resolution to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. He said Gromyko told him that “some Arab states” opposed recognition of Israel’s right to exist and that the Soviet government “argued” with those states. Shamir observed that this was “unlike some European countries which say that all Arab states really are prepared to recognize Israel under certain circumstances.”
A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed Shamir’s view that there was “not the slightest hint” that the Soviet Union or other Eastern European countries entertained a more favorable attitude toward restoring diplomatic relations with Israel.
At the meeting between Shamir and Gromyko, which took place at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, Israel was represented, in addition to Shamir, by its Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum; the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director, Yosef Ben Aaron;
and Avi Pasner, a spokesman for Shamir. The Soviets were represented, in addition to Gromyko, by their Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, and their Ambassador to the UN, Oleg Troyanovsky.
MOBILIZING AGAINST ANTI-ZIONIST DRIVE
Meanwhile, Eli Eyal, head of the World Zionist Organization’s information department, announced today that the WZO was recruiting a large group of Jewish and non-Jewish friends of Israel to warn the Western world of the broader dangers inherent in the Communist bloc drive against Zionism. Eyal spoke in reaction to the condemnation of Israel and Zionism voiced at the Havana conference.
He stressed that the counter-campaign would utilize the services of non-Jews who share the view that the ultimate aim of the anti-Zionist drive is to undermine the basic principles and values of Western society, democracy, sovereignty, freedom and independence. Eyal observed: “It was Hitler who said anti-Semitism served him against the short-sighted democracies and by making war against Judaism he would upset all democratic values.”