Israel Bows to Soviet Pressure on Settling Jewish Emigrants

Article excerpt

UNEQUIVOCAL statements by Israel's new right-wing government that it will not settle Soviet Jewish immigrants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip come after international pressure and Soviet threats to curtail Jewish emigration.

The statements by Israeli leaders reflect a sensitivity to international concern that Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's right-wing coalition will aggravate the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories and halt the Middle East peace process.

On Monday, Housing Minister Ariel Sharon, who heads the ministerial committee on immigration, announced that "immigration will not be settled beyond the green line," Israel's pre-1967 border with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Referring to the "problems" created by settlement of the immigrants in the territories, Mr. Sharon said the government did not want to damage the "historic" process of Soviet Jewish immigration in Israel.

Mr. Shamir, in a letter to President Bush, plans to give similar assurances that immigrants will not be settled in occupied territories, according to press reports.

Last week Shamir wrote to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, promising that Israel would not settle immigrants in the territories and urging the Kremlin not to give in to Arab pressure to restrict Jewish emigration.

Shamir's statements met with support from a leader of one of the extreme right-wing partners in the government. Science Minister Yuval Neeman of the Tehiya Party said he agreed with the approach that immigration and settlement need not be linked. …


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