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Shamir Wants U.S. Pressure on Emigrants

February 10, 1987|From Reuters

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir will ask the Reagan Administration and American Jewish leaders to pressure emigrating Soviet Jews to settle in Israel rather than the United States, a Shamir aide said today.

"During his visit to America next week, Mr. Shamir intends to ask the Administration and Jewish leaders to endeavor to send Soviet Jewish emigrants here," spokesman Yossi Ahimeir said.

"They are leaving the Soviet Union because they have visas delivered by Israel and we feel this is where they should come."

An aide to Immigration Minister Yaacov Tsur said Monday that due to material incentives, more than 90% of Soviet Jews would go to the United States rather than Israel if they could leave the Soviet Union.

80% Choose U.S.

The so-called "dropout" rate among Jews who leave the Soviet Union has reached as high as 80% in recent years. "Dropouts" are Jews who claim political refugee status from the United States when they reach Vienna rather than fly to Israel.

Shamir has been under pressure from members of his Cabinet who fear he may be reluctant to take up the position, unpopular in Washington, with U.S. officials.

Shamir would have to ask the United States to sidestep its own laws granting political refugee status to Soviet Jews. Shamir can also expect a cool response when asking American Jews to withhold aid from Soviet emigrants to the United States, political sources said.

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