JERUSALEM — Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Tuesday that the granting of exit visas to Josef Begun and other Jewish activists marked a limited change in Soviet emigration policy and a "moral victory" for Israel.
"But this is not the change we are looking for, neither is it strong enough . . . to paint the Russian policy in a different color," he said.
Peres said "I wouldn't be surprised" if the meeting between Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, scheduled for next week in Washington, was the reason.
Yossi Ben-Aharon, director-general of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's office, warned of a Soviet policy to allow only the "few and famous" to emigrate, while ignoring thousands of unknown Jews who want to leave.
About 260,000 Soviet Jews have immigrated to Israel since 1967, according to official Israeli figures. Israel estimates that about 400,000 of the Soviet Union's 2.5 million Jews want to leave the country.