WASHINGTON (Nov. 24)
Families of Israeli soldiers missing in action have been visiting here lately, hoping to raise interest in the plight of their sons, husbands and fathers.
This week, the wife and daughter of Ron Arad, the Israeli navigator captured in Lebanon in 1986, met with Vice President Al Gore.
And last week, the parents of Yehuda Katz, who disappeared during a tank battle in Lebanon in 1982, accompanied Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on his trip here.
The Israelis are hoping to demonstrate that the fate of their MIAs is an integral part of the peace process currently under way between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
So far, progress in the peace talks has not brought about corresponding progress in resolving the cases of the missing men.
On Monday, Tami and Yuval Arad, Ron Arad’s wife and 7-year-old daughter, went to the White House accompanied by Israeli Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich and other officials to meet with the vice president.
Tami Arad requested Gore’s help in seeking her husband’s release, and Gore pledged American support in the effort, according to the Israeli Embassy here.
And on Tuesday morning in New York, she met for about 20 minutes with Cardinal John O’Connor, who also agreed to help her.
CARDINAL O’CONNOR TO INFORM VATICAN
“The cardinal promised he would do whatever he could to alert leaders in the Middle East to the situation regarding her husband, and ask them to do what they could,” Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, said after the meeting.
O’Connor serves as president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which works on Middle East affairs.
The cardinal also told Arad he would let the Vatican know of Ron Arad’s situation, Zwilling said.
Israeli officials believe Ron Arad was captured by Lebanese Shi’ites and is currently being held by people who are responsible to Iran.
Also Monday, four children from Arad’s hometown of Hod Hasharon presented U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali with a 982-foot scroll containing letters to Arad and artwork from Hod Hasharon.
Believed to be the “world’s longest letter,” the scroll was unveiled Tuesday at the Israeli Consulate in New York.
Boutros-Ghali told the children he was trying to do whatever he could in connection with Arad’s case, according to the Israeli U.N. mission.
The children were accompanied by Gad Yaacobi, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
But Tami Arad had harsh words for the world body, saying the United Nations did not press enough to gain her husband’s release.
Arad said, “I’m “disappointed because the U.N. did a lot on the release of Western hostages” but not enough on Israelis.
Last week, Joseph and Sarah Katz, parents of Israeli MIA Yehuda Katz, met with State Department officials and others to discuss the fate of their son, who they believe is still alive.
Yehuda Katz disappeared in Lebanon in 1982.