BONN (Jan. 10)
The recent diplomatic offensive by the Palestine Liberation Organization has not changed the increasingly cordial Soviet attitude toward Israel, at least as reflected in the state-controlled media, an Israeli diplomat stationed in Moscow said in a telephone conversation Tuesday.
“If anything, they have become more realistic and they demonstrate their will to have normal working contacts with us,” said Yisrael Mei-Ami, who is deputy head of the six-man Israeli consular delegation that came to Moscow last July.
The Russian-born Mei-Ami, who speaks Russian fluently, said members of the delegation have no regular meetings with Soviet officials on the political level.
But Aryeh Levin, who heads the delegation, reported in Israel last weekend that he recently had discussed political issues with Soviet Foreign Ministry officials.
Mei-Ami said he was buoyed by reports that the Israeli Embassy building in Moscow, vacant since the Soviets severed diplomatic ties in 1967, may be reopened to accommodate the consular mission.
There has been no official word to that effect, but “this is certainly good news,” Mei-Ami said.
He said only minor alterations would be needed for the limited services currently provided. But should the Israeli diplomatic presence be enlarged, the building would require extensive renovations.
He said the Israelis would expect the Soviets to install telephones with direct dialing abroad before they moved in.
WOULD IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze reportedly indicated to Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens in Paris over the weekend that the embassy would be restored, in the framework of “normalizing” relations between their countries.
Both ministers are attending an international conference there on chemical weapons.
Mei-Ami said a move by his mission to the embassy building “in addition to the symbolic meaning, would greatly improve our working conditions.”
“It would be of great help to all those Soviet citizens who use our service,” he said.
The Israeli delegation in Moscow has been operating from the Hotel Ukraine, where its members live. They have no place to receive guests and no direct access to international telephone service.
The delegates spend most of their working day in a small, crowded room at the Dutch Embassy, where Israel has maintained an interest section since 1967.
There is no waiting room for visitors, and visa applicants often have to stand in the cold for hours before being admitted.