The global chill that accompanied the news of Gorbachev's fall reached Israel in the form of worry over the future of Soviet Jewish immigration and concern that the political turbulence may upset plans for a Middle East peace conference.
Israeli officials, implying that the new Soviet leadership opposes free Jewish emigration in principle, nonetheless expressed hope that Moscow will continue to let Jews leave in order to maintain good relations with the United States.
"I hope that whoever is in power in the Soviet Union will understand the importance of open gates for the Soviet Jews, and I hope it won't change," said Foreign Minister David Levy.
For the past few months, immigrants were arriving in decreasing numbers because of poor job prospects in Israel. Late last year, the flow reached 30,000 a month, but by August, it dipped to 10,000. About 100,000 Soviet Jews hold exit visas, and 65,000 more have obtained the Soviet passport needed for them to leave. Altogether, about 200,000 newcomers are expected to arrive in 1991.