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Shamir Says Must Continue Struggle for Soviet Jews

January 24, 1987

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Friday public demonstrations on behalf of Soviet Jews must continue because Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has shown no signs of easing emigration restrictions.

Speaking to about 300 Soviet immigrants, Shamir said the release from internal exile in the closed city of Gorky of dissident Andrei Sakharov may indicate a ″new spirit, a new spring″ in the Soviet Union, but ″not for the tens of thousands of Jews who want to leave.″

Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, were allowed to return to Moscow last month.

″We Jews must realize that for us that spring has not arrived. We still feel the freezing cold of the Soviet Union,″ Shamir said.

″Those who have been refused permission to emigrate are still waiting in great suffering,″ he added.

Israel claims that as many as 400,000 of the Soviet Union’s estimated 2.5 million Jews want to come to the Jewish state. In 1986, Soviet authorities allowed 914 Jews to leave the Soviet Union, compared with an all-time high of 51,320 in 1979.

Shamir also spoke out against an international conference on Middle East peace involving participation by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Jordan and Egypt have made such a proposal as part of a peace initiative with Israel. Egypt is the only Arab state that has a peace pact with Israel.

The prime minister said he objected to participation by the Soviet Union, China, France and Britain because they would require Israel to withdraw from the territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and would demand an independent Palestinian state. America is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council.

Shamir said that if Israel agreed to an international conference ″it will stand alone against the entire world.″

″ And they will say: ‘You agreed to such a conference, now you must accept its decisions’,″ he added.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, while serving as prime minister, had agreed to the idea of an international conference, but maintains decision-making would take place during bilateral talks between Israel and individual Arab states.

But, Shamir said ″only a fool would believe″ that the world powers would agree to what he called a rubber stamp role in such talks.

Shamir, who heads the right-wing Likud bloc, and Peres, leader of the socialist Labor Party, exchanged jobs last October. The job swap was agreed to after neither of the major parties gained a majority in the July 1984 elections, with Peres to be prime minister for the first 25 months of thte five-year presidential term and Shamir the last half.

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