JERUSALEM (Dec. 2)
Premier Shimon Peres told a group of American Jewish leaders here this morning that the air has been cleared between Israel and the U.S. in the case of Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. Navy counterintelligence analyst accused of spying for Israel.
Addressing a breakfast meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization at the Jerusalem Hilton Hotel, Peres said, “During the past 24 hours we cleared up a great deal of misunderstanding and I am optimistic that we will return to the close relationship between our two countries which reached new heights recently.”
He disclosed that Secretary of State George Shultz had telephoned him at home at 3 a.m. local time yesterday to discuss the case and clear up the misunderstandings between Israel and the U.S. Yesterday, in Houston, Shultz told reporters the U.S. was “satisfied” with Israel’s apology for the affair and “wholeheartedly welcome it.” The apology was in a statement issued after yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting.
Peres said he and Shultz spoke for more than 30 minutes and that Shultz was not aware he had awakend the Prime Minister from sleep.
A CASE OF A SINGLE PERSON
Peres stressed to the American Jewish leaders that the Pollard case was not one of Israel spying on the U.S. but of a single person — Pollard — spying. He reiterated that the policy of the Israel government is not to engage in espionage in the U.S. The whole affair, he said, was a test of relations between Israel and the U.S. and they have been cleared up now and “I hope they are back to normal.”
Peres also cautioned that a case like Pollard’s should not be perceived as a Jewish or national affair but as a singular incident. Israel, he said, would draw conclusions from its investigation so as never to repeat the failure.
Peres’ references to the Pollard case today were largely in response to questions from Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the Presidents Conference. On his arrival here last night, Bialkin blamed the State Department for criticism of Israel in the American media. He maintained, however, that American Jews could not come to terms with the Pollard case. If it is indeed true that Pollard was selling U.S. secrets to Israel, it is a very serious matter that American Jews cannot accept, he said.
Asked by Bialkin what priorities he set for the Presidents Conference to pursue in the U.S., Peres stressed the issue of Soviet Jews and Jewish education. He also urged every American Jew to visit Israel, at least once.
The Premier was not overly optimistic that Soviet Jews would soon be allowed to emigrate. He said the exit of Jews from the USSR is closely related to improved relations between Washington and Moscow; also, the Soviets will not permit Jews to leave unless they are bound for Israel, not the U.S. or else-where. The majority of Jews who left the USSR in recent years have gone to the U.S.
Referring to the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva, Peres said, “I was told Reagan spoke very movingly in the recent summit on the fate of Soviet Jews but Gorbachev was not moved.”
He said Israel cannot see how the Soviet Union can be a party to an international conference on the Middle East as long as it has no diplomatic ties with Israel and Soviet Jews are not permitted to reunite with their families in Israel. He added that an international conference is no substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Arabs.
Bialkin told Peres: “You and your government have the support of the U.S. and U.S. Jewry. We will continue to do whatever we can to further and deepen the relationships between Israel and the U.S. and work to improve the ties between the two countries.”