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Arab Leader Criticizes Superpower Discussion of Soviet Jews

October 10, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Arab League’s representative in the United States on Friday criticized President Reagan’s plan to discuss Russian Jewish emigration this weekend with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Clovis Maksoud said the issue allows Israel to pursue its ″expansionist objective.″

Maksoud, the league’s permanent representative to the United Nations, also lambasted the hundreds of congressmen and senators who signed an open letter to Reagan urging him to press the cause of Soviet Jews when he sees Gorbachev in Iceland.

Maksoud, speaking at a press conference, praised Reagan and Gorbachev for agreeing to meet, saying it was a ″step toward the reduction of international tension.″

But he said the emigration of Soviet Jews, who are often barred from leaving their country, should not be on the agenda for the superpower leaders’ discussions.

Although Maksoud said the league is concerned with all human rights issues, he added, ″I think that should be addressed in the proper context of the proper time.″

Raising the emigration issue is a misuse of ″the term human rights for the expansionist objective of Israel and the occupied terroritories,″ he said.

Yitzhak Shamir, the new Israeli prime minister, has said he wants to beef up Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Maksoud said.

Yosef Gal, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said the idea that the Israelis were pushing the issue of Soviet Jews as a way to attract more people to the West Bank settlements was ″preposterous.″

He said he would not dignify Maksoud’s statements with a formal response.