Neturei Karta Rabbi Says He Discussed Missing Israeli Soldiers with Iranians

The self-proclaimed “foreign minister” of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect said he has had contacts with Iranian officials over missing Israelis in Lebanon.

Rabbi Moshe Hirsh said he met with an Iranian diplomat in Washington at the request of the family of missing serviceman Yehuda Katz.

Katz and two others were reportedly captured during a battle with Syrian forces at Sultan Yakoub in June 1982.

His parents and the parents of Zachary Baumel and Zvi Feldman were in New York last week for a meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations in an effort to determine the fate of their sons.

Optimism about another missing Israeli serviceman was voiced by a top U.S. government official last week.

National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft told Jewish leaders in Washington there were indications that Israeli navigator Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986 was alive.

Hirsh returned this week from the American capital, where he attended the peace talks as a member of the Palestinian advisory team, a position he or one of his aides has held since the Madrid peace talks were launched a year ago.

Hirsh told reporters he met with the Iranian diplomat at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. He said he would continue contacts with Iran with a view to helping ascertain the fate of the missing soldiers.

The fervently Orthodox rabbi apparently travelled home by way of Tunis, where he said he addressed a Palestinian gathering celebrating the fourth anniversary of a proclamation of Palestinian independence by Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.

He said his speech emphasized the prompt recognition accorded the Palestinian state four years ago as an alternative to what he called the Zionist conquest of the Holy Land.

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