European Parliament Asks Brezhnev to Immediately Free Shcharansky

The President of the European Parliament, Piet Dankert, has cabled Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to ask for the immediate release of Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky who is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence in the Soviet Union. The young Jewish scientist has been on a hunger strike since the eve of Yom Kippur to protest against the conditions of his detention and Jewish sources say his life is in danger.

The European Parliament also denied that its relations with Israel had been “frozen” as a result of the Lebanese war. An official spokesman said the Assembly’s Executive has approved the renewal of contacts with Israel’s Knesset and that a joint meeting is to take place in early 1983.

This indicates, observers here say, that even if relations have not been completely “frozen” the next meeting between representatives of the two parliamentary bodies has been postponed by a year-and-a-half. The decision to postpone the joint session was reportedly taken to show the European Parliament’s “displeasure” and its protest over the Sobra and Shatila camp massacres, last month.

The European Parliament represents the 10 European Economic Community member-states. It used to hold occasional joint working sessions with Israeli parliamentarians. The Knesset has an observer status and Israeli MKs regularly attend the Parliament’s session.

The Parliament traditionally adopted strong pro-Israeli resolutions but in recent weeks it has passed a number of motions calling for the creation of a Palestinian homeland and rapping Israel for its intervention in Lebanon.

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