VIENNA (May. 22)
Former Chancellor Bruno Kreisky announced here that he has postponed indefinitely his scheduled visit to Israel, which was to begin yesterday, because his safety could not be guaranteed following the disclosure of his involvement in the exchange of three Israeli soldiers for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists who were among the 1,150 prisoners released by Israel.
Kreisky told a news conference yesterday that he has spoken with officials of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East, sponsors of the visit, and they indicated that the prisoner exchange had raised mixed feelings in Israel and they feared possible assassination attempts against the former Austrian leader in Israel.
The Center’s officials feared rallies against Kreisky, and that he would become the object of hatred and be held responsible for the release of the terrorists, he told reporters.
RECALLS STEPS THAT LED TO THE EXCHANGE
But while Kriesky disclosed some of his involvement in the prisoner exchange, he insisted he had nothing to do with the selection of who would be released from the Israeli prisons. He recalled that he had been asked more than two years ago by families of Israeli soldiers captured in the Lebanon war to help gain their release.
In a series of talks, his special emissary to the Mideast, Herbert Amery, a former Austrian Ambassador to Greece, succeeded in mediating a first exchange of six Israeli prisoners for more than 4,000 Palestinians, Kreisky said.
In another series of talks, Amery and Kreisky established indirect contacts between Israeli authorities and Ahmed Jabril, head of the pro-Syrian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command, which held the three Israeli soldiers, the former Chancellor said. He added that it had been the Libyan leader, Muammar Quadafi, who convinced Jabril to meet Kreisky during a visit to Damascus last October.
In December, 1984, Kreisky wrote a letter to Israeli Premier Shimon Peres and to Jabril presenting a compromise on which both sides agreed. “I only suggested the ratio of exchange,” Kreisky disclosed yesterday. “I have nothing to do with the selection of those prisoners which the Israelis handed over.”
Kreisky said he had been scheduled to meet with Palestinian leaders and deliver speeches at Bir Zeit University on the West Bank, and to lecture at the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Universities. He refused to provide reporters with any other possible dates when the visit to Israel may be rescheduled.