Soviet Policy toward Israel under Gorbachev

Soviet Policy toward Israel under Gorbachev

Soviet Policy toward Israel under Gorbachev

Soviet Policy toward Israel under Gorbachev

Synopsis

Mikhail Gorbachev's rise to power in 1985 signalled the beginning of significant improvements in Soviet-Israeli relations--thoroughly examined in this well-researched volume. Based on an analysis of Soviet behavior and interviews with Israeli and Soviet Foreign Ministry officials and PLO leaders, Freedman describes how eased tensions between the Soviet Union and Israel have been evidenced and analyzes the Soviet Union's reasons for advancing diplomatic relations with Israel. His identification of three primary goals which motivated the Soviets' efforts recognizes their desire to become more actively involved in the Middle East peace process and to favorably influence domestic and worldwide opinion.

Excerpt

Soviet-Israeli relations have gone through unexpected changes ever since the Jewish state was founded. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko's famous speech in 1947 in which he announced Soviet support for the establishment of Israel certainly came as a surprise after years of relentless Soviet opposition to this very idea. Yet the anti- Israeli turn in 1949, part of a general "anti-cosmopolitan" line, was no less a surprise. Soviet-Israeli relations between 1953, the year of Joseph Stalin's death, and 1967 were on the whole normal, but far from friendly. the hasty Soviet decision to break off relations after the Six-Day War was a mistake, as most Soviet leaders soon were to realize. As a result the Soviet Union found it next to impossible to bring any influence to bear on Israel and more or less debarred itself from participating in the deliberations about a peaceful solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There were several reasons for the Soviet decision in 1967; undoubtedly the most important was the assumption that it was far more important to strengthen the Soviet position in the Arab world than in Israel. Yet the heavy Soviet investment--economic, political and military-in the Arab world yielded only meager results in terms of political influence. At the same time, however, Moscow found it diffi-

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