JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
Israel and the Netherlands will establish a joint working group to consider the route Jewish emigrants will take leaving the Soviet Union, it was announced here Monday.
The subject was discussed by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Absorption Minister Yaacov Tsur with Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, who are visiting Israel this week.
Holland is directly concerned, because its embassy in Moscow issues Israeli visas to Soviet Jews who have obtained exit permits. The Netherlands has represented Israeli interests in the USSR since Moscow broke diplomatic relations with Israel in 1967.
The Israeli Cabinet decided June 19 that in the future, Jews leaving the Soviet Union on the strength of Israeli visas must pick them up at the Israel Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, from where they are to fly directly to Tel Aviv.
Unofficial reports from the meeting Monday indicated that Lubbers objected to the scheme on grounds that Soviet Jews should have freedom of choice about where to settle. The issue also has sparked controversy in the Soviet emigre community here and among Jewish leaders overseas.
The Cabinet decision would be moot without Dutch, Soviet and Romanian cooperation. Peres seemed hopeful that the proposed joint working group would produce an understanding.
Meanwhile, the six members of an Israeli consular delegation due to go to Moscow are expected to receive their entry visas momentarily. They will pick them up at The Hague enroute to the Soviet Union.
Israelis hope the delegation eventually will be allowed to issue visas, a routine consular function. The Soviets insist that is not within the purview of their visit, for the time being.