Copyright 1991 The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
December 19, 1991
HEADLINE: Levy urges Perez de Cuellar to do his all for MiAs
BYLINE: JONATHAN SCHACHTER and news agencies
NEW YORK - Foreign Minister David Levy met last night with UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar to implore him to pull out all stops in his efforts to win the release of the four Israeli soldiers still being held in Lebanon.
At press time, the meeting was still continuing.
One of the four Israelis, captain Ron Arad, shot down in 1986, is still thought to be alive, although Israel has until now received no concrete information about his fate. The other three, First Sgt. Zvi Feldman, Sgt. Zachary Baumel and Cpl. Yehuda Katz, disappeared after a 1982 tank battle in Sultan Yakoub, eastern Lebanon. Perez de Cuellar last week told The Jerusalem Post the three were dead, and their bodies were being held by unidentified "groups."
"I have information that they have the bodies and they will be eventually prepared to release them to the families," Perez de Cuellar told the Post.
"This is a critical time," said Tami Arad, the wife of the missing airman. She and the families of the other soldiers arrived in New York yesterday to plead their case before the UN and the world media.
The American people must continue to fight on behalf of the Israeli soldiers, even though all the Western hostages have been freed, she said. Roni Arad added that the fact that they were released indicates that Perez de Cuellar and his special envoy, Giandomenico Picco, should have it within their power to win the release of the Israelis as well.
Earlier this week, Perez de Cuellar sent Picco back to Teheran in an effort to solve the issue of the missing Israelis, and two Germans who are still being kept hostage. He is expected to visit Lebanon, Syria and Israel during his visit to the region.
Perez de Cuellar has committed himself to gaining the release of all the remaining hostages and MiAs before the end of his term as secretary-general, which ends December 31.
But Israeli hostage negotiator Uri Lubrani was reported last week to have lost patience with Perez de Cuellar in the wake of the apparent lack of movement on behalf of the Israelis.
The secretary-general has taken great pains over the last two weeks to reassure Israel that he is doing "everything within my power" to bring about the release of Arad and the remains of the three others.
The relatives of the missing soldiers are scheduled to meet with Perez de Cuellar tonight. Immediately afterward, they will participate in a demonstration outside the UN, organized on behalf of the MiAs by the New York Jewish community.
Meanwhile the family of two Shi'ite brothers jailed in Germany for kidnaping, air piracy and murder is resisting Iranian pressure to free the last Western hostages in Lebanon, pro-Iranian political sources said yesterday.
They said they doubted that a visit by Picco to Teheran yesterday would focus on German hostages Thomas Kemptner and Heinrich Struebig and the two Lebanese jailed in Germany - Mohammad Ali and Abbas Hamadi.
The Hamadis' relatives have long demanded an exchange of the two brothers for the German hostages.