Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres told 3,000 delegates today at the United Synagogue of America biennial convention that the Labor Party would continue to oppose any attempt to change the Law of Return.
“I believe that if another test vote will come in the Knesset, the majority will reject any changes in the existing law,” Peres told the Conservative laymen and rabbis assembled here. He stated that the Labor Party would continue to oppose any legislation that might be offered. “We don’t change our minds every half-year; this remains our policy.”
The Prime Minister, addressing the convention from Jerusalem live via satellite, pleaded for a 10 to 15-year moratorium on this problem. “This is an issue that divides us. Let us instead concentrate on those problems that keep us together.” He offered such common concerns as Soviet Jews, peace in the Middle East, enriching the younger generation with a Jewish education, and strengthening Israel spiritually, economically and politically, as areas where Israel and diaspora Jewry can work together.
ISSUE OF SOVIET JEWRY
Turning to the current ferment regarding Soviet Jews, Peres told the United Synagogue convention that “the gates of emigration will not be opened up again unless Soviet Jews go straight to Israel.”
He based this assertion on private conversations “direct and indirect” that he and other Israeli officials have held with Soviet diplomats.
Peres said, “We must keep this issue alive, diplomatically and publicly, to win the day.” He was told that, this morning, the United Synagogue sent telegrams to President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, calling for discussions at the summit by the two leaders on “this grave human rights question.” The messages were signed by 1,845 delegates representing hundreds of synagogues from the United States and Canada.
NEXT STEP IN THE PEACE PROCESS
Asked about the next step in the peace process, Peres stated that new movement would have to await the response of King Hussein of Jordan. He said he felt that Hussein was waiting for an answer from Yasir Arafat on whether the PLO would stop terrorist actions, accept United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, and negotiate directly with Israel.
“I believe that Arafat will reject these proposals, and I urge King Hussein to let other Palestinians from the West Bank participate in peace talks, so that we may move forward,” Peres said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.