TEL AVIV (Jan. 31)
Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth of Hungary said Monday that his government intends to restore diplomatic relations with Israel within the next five months.
His remarks, in an Austrian television interview, were welcomed by Foreign Ministry officials here, who are waiting for an announcement of the date.
Nemeth said that Hungary was “of course, in touch with Moscow, but does not need prior Soviet authorization for domestic and foreign policy decisions.”
Sources here said once Hungary re-establishes ties with Israel, Poland can be expected to follow and other Eastern bloc nations then will gradually upgrade their level of diplomatic representation with Israel.
The entire Soviet bloc, except Romania, severed diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.
But in recent years, a thaw has set in. The Soviet Union sent a consular delegation to Israel in the spring of 1987. Israel was allowed to send a consular delegation to Moscow last summer.
Israel and Poland opened interest sections in Warsaw and Tel Aviv respectively in 1987.
Hungary, meanwhile, has agreed to grant Hebrew the same status as other elective languages, such as Russian and English, taught at high schools in Budapest.
HEBREW CLASSES IN HIGH SCHOOL
That was announced in New York by Dr. Jerry Hochbaum, executive vice president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.
He said the first Hebrew courses would be given at selected high schools.
The instructors will be graduates of the Hungarian Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Budapest, the first center for Jewish studies in Eastern Europe.
Hochbaum also announced that permission was granted by the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest — also the only one of its kind in Eastern Europe — to train not only rabbis but teachers to serve the needs of the Jewish community in Hungary.
Israel’s outgoing civil defense chief, Brig. Gen. Aharon Vardi, attended a gala concert in Budapest Monday night for the benefit of the victims of last month’s earthquake in Soviet Armenia.
Vardi headed an Israeli rescue team sent to the stricken area. He was invited by the Hungarians in recognition of his efforts.
Israel had a rare visitor from East Germany Tuesday. He is Kurt Loeffler, minister of religious affairs of the German Democratic Republic, who was in Jerusalem on a private visit.
He was invited by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and was received by the Israeli minister of religious affairs, Zevulun Hammer.
Two officials accompanying Loeffler were received at the Foreign Ministry Tuesday, even though East Germany has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Officials hinted that Israel will not press East Germany to renew diplomatic contacts until the issue of reparations has been settled.
The East Germans, unlike West Germany, have long refused to assume responsibility for the atrocities of the Nazi era. But in October, the World Jewish Congress announced that the East Germans had agreed in principle to pay a symbolic sum as reparations. No payments have been made yet, however.
Yishayahu Anug, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, made clear that Israel has not dropped its demand for East German reparations to surviving Holocaust victims.
The reparations issue, and the lack of diplomatic ties, were the reasons given by Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem for refusing to meet with Loeffler.