JERUSALEM (Sep. 6)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir is scheduled to pay what is being billed as a private visit to Hungary within a few weeks, at the invitation of the Hungarian government.
The declaration came following a meeting here Monday between Shamir and Imre Miklos, the Hungarian minister of religion, who is visiting here as a guest of Religious Affairs Minister Zevulun Hammer.
Hammer is also scheduled to pay a return visit to Hungary shortly.
Shamir’s visit is scheduled to take place shortly after Yom Kippur. Peres, who is also vice premier, had planned to visit Czechoslovakia at approximately the same time, but postponed his visit.
The announcement and visit by Miklos follow an unprecedented diplomatic thaw between the two nations, who have enjoyed only limited relations since Budapest broke ties with Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, following the lead of Moscow and most other Eastern bloc countries.
A visit by Shamir would be the latest of a series of events that indicate real progress toward a full resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In May, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made an unexpected visit to Budapest and met with Hungarian Prime Minister Karoly Grosz.
In July, Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency Executive, made an officially sanctioned visit to Budapest. Dinitz shared the podium with Hungarian officials at the ground-breaking for a monument to the Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Following the ceremony, Dinitz and Avi Beker, director of the World Jewish Congress office in Israel, held extensive talks with Hungarian government officials, including Miklos. An immediate result of those talks was the visit to Israel of Jewish youngsters from a Hungarian Jewish summer camp.
Miklos is the highest-ranking East bloc official to visit Israel, apart from representatives of Romania, the only Communist bloc nation that did not sever ties with Israel following the 1967 war.
At the meeting with Shamir, Miklos called his visit a gesture of goodwill, and said that diplomatic relations between the two countries would resume “as soon as the situation allows.”
The Hungarian official told Shamir there is no discrimination against Jews in Hungary.
The 45-minute meeting was described as “amiable.” Shamir praised Hungary’s treatment of what is estimated to be 80,000 Jews as a “shining example” to other East European countries.
The Israeli premier asked his guest to pass on to Hungarian leader Grosz the message that Israel would like to strengthen ties, including diplomatic relations.
The talks with Miklos bore fruit in an agreement on four major subjects:
* An Israeli delegation will conduct a thorough survey of all Jewish locations in Hungary, and acknowledge Hungarian government responsibility for those sites.
* Israel will assist the local Jewish community in Jewish education, an agreement hammered out in July between Dinitz and Hungarian officials.
* Representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs will be permitted to photocopy rare books and ancient Jewish artifacts in Budapest.
* Efforts will be made to export more Torah scrolls from Hungary to Israel.
In a related development, Meron Gordon, the head of the Israeli consular delegation now in Moscow, returned to Israel on Tuesday to brief Peres on the team’s work, which began in July.
Gordon said the delegation was greeted warmly by the local Jewish community, but that so far it has had no political contacts with the host country.