JERUSALEM (Aug. 27)
The Foreign Ministry Wednesday denied press reports that, contrary to stated Israeli policy, a Soviet consular delegation would visit Israel soon without a reciprocal Israeli visit to the USSR.
Despite the denial, Soviet emigres reacted sharply, most vocal among them the internationally known Natan Shcharansky.
According to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Premier Shimon Peres made a point of discussing the issue with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, stressing that there was no change in Israeli policy.
The Foreign Ministry said that the position of Israel continued to be the reciprocity outlined by Israeli delegates to their Soviet counterparts at their meeting in Helsinki on August 18. Since then, the Ministry said, there had been no contacts with the Soviets.
In a separate statement, Minister-Without-Portfolio Moshe Arens said no government forum had given the green light to a Soviet delegation. He contended that any Soviet demand should be met with a minimum demand by Israel to release all Jews imprisoned for Zionist activities. “No Soviet request should be met without a similar response to Israel’s requests regarding Soviet Jews,” said Arens.
PUBLIC CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE USSR URGED
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday beside his mother Ida Milgrom and his brother Leonid, Natan Shcharansky urged a public campaign against the USSR which would convince it that “public opinion of the West will simply never permit their governments to sacrifice the interest of Soviet Jewry.” In a word, Shcharansky said, he condoned all “non-violent” action to achieve the goal of freeing Soviet Jewry.
On the reported proposal by Peres that a Soviet delegation be allowed to visit Israel, Shcharansky said adamantly: “We can never compromise because it is really very dangerous, and if (the report) is correct, it’s a serious mistake which can bear very grave consequences for all who struggle for Soviet Jewry.”
Shcharansky thanked all those who helped bring the family together. His mother, brother and his family arrived in Israel Monday night from the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, American oil magnate Armand Hammer arrived in Israel Wednesday, and had a meeting scheduled with Peres. The 88-year-old Hammer has been an unofficial mediator between the West and the USSR since the 1920′s.
He said he would try to use his close contacts with the Soviet leadership to advance Israeli-Soviet ties. He is scheduled to fly to the USSR at the end of the month.