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West German Papers Assess Presence of Soviet Consular Team in Israel

The presence in Israel of a Soviet consular team attracted the attention of West Germany’s leading newspapers. They spoke about Israel’s desire for better contacts with Soviet Jewry and said that Moscow wants to use this opening to eventually participate in international talks on the Middle East.

Die Welt, of Bonn, commented that “a goodwill tour alone, provided with Western-type press conferences, will hardly lead to basic changes in Soviet-Israeli relations….It is logical for the Soviets to take the necessary steps to bring about a normalization of relations. Without diplomatic relations with Israel, Soviet participation in an international Near East peace conference–if it materializes at all–will not get approval at all.”

The Berliner Morgenpost touched on Israel’s alleged interest in better contacts with Soviet Jews. “The mounting of Israel’s hopes for new diplomatic relations with the USSR has labored and brought forth a mouse: a consular delegation…with the official task to register Soviet property in Israel and renew the passports of Soviet citizens, came to Jerusalem.

“That is far removed from the ideas the Israelis have had for the past two years. But their desire for relations of any kind with the Soviet Union is so great that they are willing to countenance this, just to be able to remove the shadow of the present semi-legality from their contacts with Soviet Jews.”

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