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Rumania, Israel Seen Drawing Closer; Mrs. Meir Says Rumania Not Ready to Accept Mediating Role in Mi

May 8, 1972
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Premier Golda Meir returned today from her three-day visit to Rumania amid indications that the friendly relations between Israel and Rumania will become even closer in the future although the two countries are far apart in their assessment of Middle East peace prospects. Landing at Lydda Airport she was greeted by President Zalman Shazar and members of her Cabinet and the diplomatic corps.

Mrs. Meir expressed thanks for the warm reception she received in Bucharest but scotched speculation that Rumania might assume a mediating role between Israel and the Arab states. “Not now and not in the future,” Mrs. Meir said at an airport news conference when asked about such prospects, Rumania, she said, is in no position to be regarded as a mediator. She refused to reply to questions about Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu’s recent talks with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, saying that only the parties to those talks could answer.

She avoided saying whether her visit, the first by an Israeli Premier to a Communist bloc nation, would contribute to improved relations between Israel and other nations of the East European bloc. Rumania has consistently maintained good relations with Israel which has nothing to do with her belonging to one bloc or another, Mrs. Meir said, adding that she had “a good, friendly and pleasant visit.”

Mrs. Meir, who arrived in Bucharest last Thurs-day, met first with Rumanian Premier Ion Gheorghe Maurer and then entered into an exhaustive eight hours of talks with Ceausescu. The content of those talks, part of which were held in private with only a translator present, were not disclosed. A joint communique released tonight here and in Bucharest was couched in generalities and stressed bilateral relations between the two countries. Mrs. Meir will report on her Rumanian visit to a special Cabinet meeting later this week.


Most Israeli journalists who accompanied Mrs. Meir on her trip agreed that nothing new had emerged with regard to the Middle East conflict. They said both sides seem to have reiterated their known positions, though in more detail and in an atmosphere described by the eye-witnesses as more than friendly and unusual even in Bucharest where visits by foreign statesmen are common. One member of Mrs. Meir’s entourage said that a reception such as Mrs. Meir received in Rumania “has never been given to an Israeli Premier in a Western country.”

The diplomatic deadlock over the Middle East was apparently not broken and the differences in their approach to the problem became well defined during Mrs. Meir’s talks with Ceausescu, sources here said. The Rumanian leader continues to believe that Sadat wants peace and is ready to negotiate.

He apparently tried to dissuade Mrs. Meir from her position that there must be no pre-conditions to peace talks, meaning that Israel will not withdraw from territories before the talks begin. Mrs. Meir, for her part, tried to persuade President Ceausescu that Sadat does not seek peace but only new positions from which he would be better able to attack Israel.

Mrs. Meir said at her press conference today, “If the Rumanian President had the impression that Sadat wants peace, he did not need another statement from us that we are ready. If the impression is true, and I hope it is, then why don’t the two sides take steps to implement peace without a third party go-between?” she asked. Mrs. Meir described her talks with Ceausescu and Maurer as “very long and very open-hearted talks on problems of interest to both nations and with a keen will on both sides to still better their relations.

The Israeli Premier said the talks also “covered international relations and regional problems. Rumania has an interest in peace in this region as in the whole world.” She said she invited Maurer and his wife to Israel and hoped the visit would take place soon. Ceausescu was also invited but no date for his visit was discussed.


It was learned that the joint communique issued tonight was drafted by Rumania and that Israel at first was reluctant to approve of a joint statement because it might stress the differences between the two countries. But the Rumanians reportedly insisted on grounds that no joint statement might imply that Mrs. Meir’s visit was a failure. The statement was carefully gone over by Mrs. Meir’s political secretary, Simcha Din-its and Rumanian Deputy Foreign Minister Gheorghiu Macovescu before the final draft was submitted to Mrs. Meir and Ceausescu for approval.

The joint communique stressed the cordial atmosphere of the talks between the two heads of government and said views were exchanged “on the present state of bilateral relations and on the possibilities of their further development as well as on international issues of mutual interest.” In the latter area, the statement “reaffirmed that the relations among states should be based on the observance of the principles of national independence and sovereignty, non-interference in domestic affairs and equal rights and mutual advantage on the observance of the right of each people to decide freely its own fate without any outside interference.”

The communique also stated: “The two sides agreed that the existence of hotbeds of tension and war in different areas of the world constituted a serious danger for the world peace and they pointed out the need to make efforts for the settlement of litigious questions in peaceful ways for the elimination of force from international life.” Regarding the Middle East conflict, the statement said “The two heads of government stood for the continuation of the efforts toward the peaceful settlement of the conflict.”

Mrs. Meir spoke warmly at the airport of her meetings with Rumanian Jews and especially her visit Friday night to the synagogue in Bucharest where Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen interrupted normal proceedings to greet her at the door. He carried a Torah scroll to her and allowed her to sit near the altar where, according to Orthodox Jewish practice, only men are permitted. Mrs. Meir said “It was most impressive to listen to the wonderful choir of boys and girls who sang ‘Jerusalem the Golden.”

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