NEW YORK (May. 3)
Soviet Jews who settle in the administered territories would be arrested and charged with war crimes if they were to return to the Soviet Union on a visit, a top Soviet official said last week.
Yuri Reshetov, chief of the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights, made the statements in separate meetings with Ido Dissenchik, editor of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, and with Paul Flacks, executive vice president of the Zionist Organization of America.
In an April 17 meeting with Flacks, Reshetov warned that if Soviet Jews “are channeled to live in the occupied territories, Israel is jeopardizing their lives.”
Flacks said Reshetov, citing the 1949 Geneva Convention, stated if the status of Palestinians in the territories is threatened by settlement of Soviet Jews there, those who return to the Soviet Union “will be charged with war crimes.”
“How seriously the Soviet Union will follow that or whether it’s an official policy is not clear,” Flacks said.
Reshetov’s comments to Dissenchik were reported April 27 in the London Jewish Chronicle.
“If a Soviet Jew comes back for a holiday on the Black Sea and we have certain information that he or she took part in war crimes, we shall regard him or her as a war criminal,” Reshetov told Dissenchik.
Although the tourist might no longer be a Soviet citizen, the authorities would still be at liberty to detain the individual, Reshetov said.
A precedent would be Israel’s capture and punishment of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann even though his crimes were committed before the establishment of the State of Israel, Reshetov told Dissenchik.
The Soviet mission to the United Nations in New York declined comment Wednesday on the conversations attributed to Reshetov.