NEW YORK (Sep. 30)
The meeting between Israel’s Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko last week was described as “remarkably free of polemics” by a spokesperson for the Israel Mission to the United Nations. Shamir, himself, described the 90-minute meeting at the Soviet Mission to the UN as “very good, a very long discussion.”
The meeting last Tuesday night, which was requested by Israel, was the second meeting between Shamir and Gromyko, who met at the UN General Assembly three years ago, and the first high-level contact between Israel and the Soviet Union since then. Shamir and Gromyko are in New York for the 39th session of the Assembly.
There has been no official reaction in Israel to the Shamir-Gromyko meeting. But Premier Shimon Peres, in presenting his unity government to the Knesset on September 13, urged Moscow to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel. He said those ties were “severed at a time of anger” during the 1967 Six-Day War.
ISSUE OF SOVIET JEWRY
According to Judith Dranger, a spokeswoman for the Israel Mission to the UN, Shamir raised with Gromyko the issue of Soviet Jewry and asked that the Soviet government “let all those Jews who wish to do so to move to Israel.” Gromyko told Shamir that the Soviet Union had already permitted many Jews to leave for Israel, the spokeswoman reported. Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Jews have been leaving the USSR since 1967. But the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union has declined to a mere trickle in the last two years.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE CONFERENCE REJECTED
Gromyko reportedly raised the issue of an international peace conference on the Middle East with the participation of Israel, the Arab countries, the Palestinians, the United States and the Soviet Union. Shamir replied that Israel favors direct negotiations as a way to reach a solution in the Mideast, noting that negotiations have proved to be more effective than conferences in dealings between Israel and the Arab countries.
In a television interview last Wednesday, Shamir said he explained to Gromyko that an international conference “at this time” will not be useful “because we prefer direct negotiations with all the countries in the Mideast one by one and we see the only way to bring about such solutions is by the Camp David accords.”
He added that Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and therefore “we are not very pleased by this idea” of an international conference. Shamir said that he told Gromyko that in the absence of diplomatic ties, Israel could not even discuss the proposal.
In reply to a question regarding the resumption of diplomatic ties between Jordan and Egypt, Shamir said it is “a victory for the Camp David process.” Jordan’s decision to resume ties with Egypt “proves that the only realistic way in the Mideast to solve the problems of the Arab-Israeli conflict is by the way of Camp David,” Shamir declared.
Shamir is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State George Shultz tomorrow and will address the General Assembly on Wednesday.