Soviet Moves on Ties With Israel Told
The Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc satellites are moving toward diplomatic ties with Israel in an apparent effort to expand their role in the Middle East, Israeli radio reported today.
The Soviet moves come at a time when there is intense diplomatic activity in advance of the Soviet-American summit and the stirrings of a Jordanian-Israeli peace initiative.
Israel radio said reports had reached Jerusalem that Jordan and Egypt had been urging the Soviet Union to re-establish ties with Israel. The New York Times said Washington would convey an Israeli message to the Kremlin that the only way the Soviets could join the peace talks would be to restore diplomatic ties severed in 1967.
A Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said he could not confirm the report.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir touched off a flurry of speculation when he said on Israeli television Wednesday night that in recent days “we received information that another Warsaw Pact country wants to strengthen ties with us.”
Poland announced its agreement Oct. 23 to exchange low-level diplomats with Israel. Shamir declined to say what country wanted to improve ties, but the most likely was Hungary, which has growing economic relations with Israel.
“I sense a change in the tone that I haven’t heard before and (I heard) new thoughts about relations,” said Victor Shemtov, one of three Israeli Parliament members who visited Moscow last week.