JERUSALEM (Sep. 19)
Israel’s relations with Austria reached a new low when Vienna announced Monday it would reduce the level of its diplomatic representation in Israel.
A spokesman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry said the move was in response to Israel’s refusal to send a new ambassador to Austria as long as Kurt Waldheim is president.
The announcement came on the same day that Austria’s neighbor, Hungary, became the first East bloc nation to restore full diplomatic ties with Israel, broken in 1967,
Israel has already named an ambassador to Budapest, but it has none in Vienna.
Its last envoy, Michael Elitzur, returned home three years ago after the Austrians overwhelmingly elected Waldheim, despite revelations that he had been active in the Nazi Party and had served in a German army unity linked to atrocities against civilians in Greece and Yugoslavia.
Israel has refused to name a successor. Its embassy in Vienna is currently headed by Gideon Yarden, who has the rank of charge d’affaires.
Otto Pleinet, the Austrian ambassador to Israel, is about to be posted to Stockholm. Reports from Vienna this week said he would be replaced by a charge d’affaires.
Pleinert stressed Tuesday that it was important to observe reciprocity. But a final decision about his successor is not expected until next spring.
Waldheim’s term expires in 1992. He has not ruled out standing for re-election. But the conservative People’s Party, which supported his candidacy in 1986, has hinted it would not do so a second time.