The State Department made it clear Monday that if the Soviet Union resumes diplomatic relations with Israel it will not automatically remove the Reagan Administration’s objections to Soviet participation in the Middle East peace process.
State Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman stressed this point as he said he had “no specific comment” on reports that the Soviet Union and Israel will hold talks soon about restoring consular relations. The USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.
“It has been our consistent position that Israel should enjoy diplomatic relations with the widest possible number of foreign governments,” Redman said. But, he emphasized that the U.S. position has been that restoring relations with Israel is one of the “kinds of things” the Soviet Union could do if it wanted “to show that it’s willing to play a responsible role” in the Mideast.
He said there were other requirements such as “a more forthcoming position on the question of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union” and an end to supporting regimes such as Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s in Libya.
As for the U.S., Washington is engaged in a process of “looking toward the initiation of direct negotiations between Israel and credible Arab interlocutors,” Redman said. He said progress will only come “step-by-step.” He added, “We remain committed to a negotiated peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors.”
Redman had no assessment of Vice President George Bush’s trip to the Middle East. On a visit to the Sinai Sunday, Bush said he believed peace would come to the Mideast within the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, Redman welcomed the report in Israel by Anatoly Shcharansky that his mother, Ida Milgrom, his brother, Leonid, and Leonid’s wife, Iraida, and their two sons, will be allowed to leave the USSR for Israel August 23.
This is a “positive gesture,” Redman said. “We hope it is a sign of Soviet determination to move forward with significant sustained progress on Jewish emigration.” Redman had no comment on Shcharansky’s statement in Israel Sunday that the Soviets had agreed to allow his family to leave because of pressure from the White House and State Department.
Shcharansky said the U.S. had acted after he had revealed recently that the Soviet Union had violated a secret written agreement when he was released last February in an East-West prisoner exchange that his family would be allowed to join him in Israel soon.
While refusing to discuss whether there had been any U.S. pressure, Redman noted, “We’ve been extremely interested in this case as well as many, many other cases of a similar nature. And we continue to work all those cases to the best of our ability.”
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.