Soviet Overtures to Israel Reported

The Soviet Union appears to be making overtures toward Israel in the course of quiet contacts at senior diplomatic levels which have been going on for some time, according to an article in Haaretz Wednesday by Akiva Eldar.

At meetings in recent weeks, the Soviets seemed interested in a trade-off whereby they would renew discussions on the establishment of Consular relations with Israel and on the problem of Jewish emigration in exchange for Israel’s agreement to Soviet participation in the Middle East political process, including an international conference for Arab-Israeli peace, Haaretz said.

The contacts began early in October after then Premier Shimon Peres met with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in New York. The USSR reportedly is reassessing its Middle East policy, and, according to reports from Israeli Ambassadors in several European capitals, Soviet diplomats have expressed regret over breaking relations with Israel in 1967.

They have also indicated it was a mistake for Moscow to rely solely on Syria with respect to its interest in Middle East developments. According to Haaretz, the USSR is aware of Israel’s concerns.

In all their discussions, Soviet officials have called attention to television programs and theatrical presentations in the Soviet Union devoted to Jewish themes as a sign of their willingness to re-examine Soviet attitudes toward Israel, Haaretz reported.

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