JERUSALEM (Jul. 28)
Vice President George Bush spent the second day of his visit to Israel Monday touring the Old City of Jerusalem in the company of Mayor Teddy Kollek, and later had lunch with a recent Jewish emigrant from the Soviet Union.
Bush, who arrived on the first part of a three-nation, 10-day tour of the Middle East, visited the immigrant center at Mevasseret Zion near Jerusalem. He was also scheduled to meet with former Soviet Jewish Prisoner of Conscience Natan Shcharansky.
On meeting with olim from such countries as the Soviet Union, Rumania and the U.S. during their Hebrew studies at the Center’s Ulpan Hebrew class for adult immigrants, Bush commented, “It is very moving for me to meet people who are free to come to the land of their choice, to the land that means so much to them.”
Ulpan director Shmuel Segal told Israel Radio that Rumanian immigrants in particular found it difficult to understand the Vice President’s visit, saying that in their home country such dignitaries are never seen by the ordinary public.
Bush then had lunch at the Ulpan Center with Marc and Natasha Drajinsky, who came to Israel from the Soviet Union a year ago. Center residents urged Bush to increase pressure on Moscow to open the gates and allow increased Jewish emigration.
Earlier, Bush became the most senior United States political personality to visit the Old City. Surrounded by scores of security personnel, Bush visited the restored Citadel at King David’s Tower, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Cardo, the renovated Jewish Quarter of the City and the Mosques on the Temple Mount.
PURPOSE OF THE TOUR
Kollek presented his American guest with an antique map of Jerusalem, and to Barbara Bush, the Vice President’s wife, he gave a pendent in the shape of a “Homsa” (hand) charm. According to Kollek, the purpose of the tour was “to show that Jerusalem is one city and not a divided city.”
It was only a few years ago that visiting American political figures agreed to tour across the pre-1967 borders in the company of an Israeli official. Secretary of State George Shultz made a similar tour.
Bush was warmly welcomed to Israel in a Rose Garden ceremony in Jerusalem attended by Israeli dignitaries, and religious and political officials, including Premier Shimon Peres.
REAFFIRMS U.S. MIDEAST POSITION
The U.S. Vice President affirmed the U.S. commitment to pursue a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict, saying, “I can’t think of any better time to come here,” an apparent reference to the talks last week between Peres and King Hassan of Morocco.
Bush added: “We in America will do all we can to bring true peace to the Middle East.” After the Rose Garden ceremony, Bush and his visiting entourage, which includes a film crew, went to Yad Vashem and later to the Western Wall, accompanied by Religious Affairs Minister Yosef Burg.
Bush had separate, private meetings Sunday with Peres and Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. The meetings were described as purely courtesy calls, and working meetings are scheduled for Wednesday.
In the meantime, Bush appears to be spending his first days in Israel visiting numerous tourist sites. The camera crew is working for Bush’s political action committee, Fund for America’s Future, and the footage is expected to be used in Bush’s anticipated Presidential bid in 1988.