Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

State Department to Soviet Union: First Restore Relations with Israel

January 12, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department urged the Soviet Union on Thursday to restore diplomatic relations with Israel before considering upgrading the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status in Moscow.

“Any unilateral act to enhance the status of the so-called ‘state of Palestine’ can only have a detrimental effect on current peace efforts,” State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said.

Tutwiler was reacting to an announcement by the Soviet Foreign Ministry on Wednesday that the PLO was being allowed to “reorganize” its mission in Moscow to the status of embassy.

This also means that the Soviet representative to the PLO headquarters in Tunis would be ranked as an ambassador.

“We have said from the beginning of this (peace) process that what is required is a practical approach to solve problems,” Tutwiler said. “A measure of Soviet seriousness would be their willingness to take and support practical steps.”

Tutwiler said that every time Secretary of State James Baker has discussed the Middle East with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, he has urged the Soviets “to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel.”


The United States criticized the Nov. 15, 1988, decision by the Palestine National Council to create a state of Palestine in exile.

The official U.S. position is that the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must be decided through negotiations and not through unilateral acts such as declaring a state or annexation.

But the Soviet Union and some 110 other countries have recognized the PNC decision.

The Kremlin announced its intentions just hours after Shevardnadze met with Israeli Science and Development Minister Ezer Weizman, the first such high-level meeting between the two countries in Moscow since the Soviets broke diplomatic relations in 1967.

Weizman reported that the Soviet Union plans to upgrade its relations with Israel just short of the ambassadorial level. This would give Israel legation status with a delegation headed by a minister.

Israel now has a consular mission in Moscow which works under the auspices of the Dutch Embassy, but uses the old Israeli Embassy.

Weizman, meanwhile, is considered to have slighted the head of the Israeli consular mission, Arye Levin, by agreeing to the Soviet insistance that Levin not accompany him to the meeting with Shevardnadze.

“I did my best,” Weizman told Israel Radio. But he said he decided to meet Shevardnadze without Levin rather than have the meeting canceled.

Recommended from JTA