Austria to Recall Its Envoy in Israel

Chancellor Franz Vranitzky announced Wednesday that Austria will recall its Ambassador in Israel, Otto Pleinert, for consultations over Israel’s failure to name a replacement for its Ambassador to Austria, Michael Elizur, who has retired and left Vienna.

Vranitzky, speaking after a ministerial council meeting, said the move does not reflect ill-feeling between the two countries, but that Austria wants to know exactly what Israel’s position is. He said Pleinert had approached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem for an explanation and he is being called home to give a first hand report for evaluation.

Vranitzky would not rule out the envoy’s return to Israel after reporting to the Foreign Ministry here. He did not say how Austria would react if Israel decided not to send a new Ambassador to Vienna.

An Austrian radio report from Jerusalem said Elizur was still considered there to be the Ambassador to Austria, although the Israel Embassy in Vienna is presently headed by the Charge d’ Affaires, Gideon Yarden, on a temporary basis.

The report said Israel is interested in maintaining good relations with Austria but has still not decided one way or another about the future level of its diplomatic representation in Vienna.

Israel reacted bitterly to the election of Kurt Waldheim to the Presidency of Austria last summer after the exposure of his Nazi past. Yitzhak Shamir, who was Israel’s Foreign Minister at the time, vowed that no Israeli envoy would ever present his credentials to Waldheim. Protocol requires an Ambassador to present credentials to the chief of state. A Charge d’ Affaires does not.

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