JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has suggested that the members of the Soviet consular mission in Tel Aviv visit the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to see for themselves that the Israeli government is not directing Soviet olim to settle there.
In an interview published Monday by the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, Shamir said, “If they would visit, they would see with their own eyes that there is no truth to the lies that are being spread about us. The members of the delegation do not even have to apply to the authorities — Israel is an open and free society.”
The prime minister said the “lies against us” continued to be spread by hostile propaganda despite his own repeated denials.
The government’s position is that it does not direct immigrants to any particular area; but it does not prevent any Jew from living wherever he or she wishes in Israel.
Official figures show that there are only about 200 Soviet olim in the territories, excluding East Jerusalem, which Israel regards as an integral part of a unified Jerusalem.
“The propaganda against us is shocking,” Shamir said. “Therefore, I call on the members of the consular delegation to go and see with their own eyes. But I doubt they will do this.”
A senior Soviet delegation member would only say, “I shall not respond to diplomatic contacts with the Israeli government.”