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Haig Promises to Raise Issue of Soviet Jews, Particularly Shcharansky, When He Meets Gromyko, JTA, Jan. 19, 1982.

Alexander HaigSecretary of State Alexander Haig has promised to raise the question of Soviet Jewry, and specifically the case of Anatoly Shcharansky when he meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Geneva later this month.

Haig made that pledge at a meeting with Premier Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir here last Thursday before returning to Washington. Following the meeting, he met briefly with Shcharansky’s wife, Avital. Sources here said Begin had pressed Haig for a commitment as a means of publicly demonstrating America’s concern with the issue.

At their meeting, Begin and Shamir described the general situation of Soviet Jews and the sharp drop in emigration permits issued them during the past year. Shcharansky, a Jewish activist arrested in 1978, is in the fifth year of a 13-year prison term for alleged treason and anti-Soviet activity.

Haig To Return To The Mideast

Shamir told the Cabinet yesterday that Haig would return to the Middle East on January 28 for another attempt to impart some impetus to the lagging autonomy negotiations between Israel and Egypt. Israeli sources expect him to present proposals of his own aimed at bridging the gap between the two countries. Haig said he would do this when he left Israel last Friday. He said his suggestions would be based on his assessment of the positions of both sides and would be offered as “a partner” to the negotiations.

Shamir said his talks with Haig indicated that the basic friendship between Washington and Jerusalem has not eroded despite the recent dispute over Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. On the contrary, Shamir said, there was every indication that Washington wants to improve relations.

Complaints About Egypt Dragging Its Feet

Shamir said the Egyptians were not especially anxious to press ahead with the autonomy talks before Israel’s final withdrawal from Sinai next April 26, while, according to the Foreign Minister, Israel is anxious to make progress toward an agreement. Shamir and other ministers complained that Egypt was dragging its feet on some aspects of normalization between the two countries and expressed fear that after Israel leaves Sinai, the Egyptians might lean toward the Saudi Arabian peace plan which Israel has rejected.

Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor announced yesterday that the Cabinet would “soon” hold an “in-depth” debate on the state of the peace process. He stressed, however, that there was no question of Israel “reviewing” its commitments under the peace treaty, particularly its commitment to vacate all of Sinai by next April. None of the ministers were suggesting anything like that, despite their dissatisfaction with some Egyptian statements and actions, Naor said.

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