PARIS (Oct. 6)
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said last Friday that the resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel is linked to “a normalization” of the situation in the Middle East.
Speaking at a press conference before his return to Moscow after a four-day visit to France, Gorbachev refused to give any details on the conditions of detained Jewish and non-Jewish activists in the USSR or to be drawn into a discussion on the condition of the Jewish population inside the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev, who fielded several questions on these issues, did not mention the Israeli air raid on a Palestinian terrorist base near Tunis last Tuesday and refrained from voicing the traditional Soviet anti-Israeli accusations.
Diplomatic observers said they were pleasantly surprised by what they termed “a certain dispassionate moderation” in Gorbachev’s tone. They said that the arguments have remained unchanged but the approach has lost its former anti-Israeli ring.
On the subject of the resumption of diplomatic relations, the Soviet leader said: “The Israeli government has a short sighted policy. It wants to achieve its ends by reaching separate agreements (with the Arab states) while the situation calls for a global agreement.”
Gorbachev stressed that the Soviet Union is ready to take part in the search for a global solution, a clear reference to the international conference, with Moscow’s participation,called for by Jordan’s King Hussein.
“The sooner the (Middle East) situation will be normalized, the sooner we shall be able to start studying the normalizations of our relations (with Israel),” Gorbachev said. He added: “We have participated in the creation of the State of Israel, we recognize its sovereignty, its right to exist, its legitimate interests and its security needs. We have different ideas, however, of what (are) its security needs.”
The Soviet leader enumerated four points which he considers essential in the search for a global solution: Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories; the Palestinians’ right to self-determination; the respect of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; and Israel’s right to exist.