The ambassador of Venezuela said today that he will move his embassy to Tel Aviv in protest against recent moves by Israel to perpetuate its sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, including the eastern sector captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Immediately upon returning from a trip to Caracas, Ambassador Luis Lacorde met with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and said that after 32 years here, Venezuela's small delegation in Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood was moving to Tel Aviv, where most foreign missions are located.
Venezuela is one of 11 Latin American countries that have embassies in Jerusalem. Along with Haiti and the Netherlands, they are the only countries whose ambassadors are based here.
Some Israeli officials are bracing themselves for a worsening of diplomatic relations with other countries once the Knesset, the Israeli parliament enacts into law a controversial bill declaring Jerusalem the indivisible capital of Israel.
The bill, which is expected to gain final Knesset approval Wednesday, has no practical effect, since Israel annexed East Jerusalem 18 days after the 1967 war and has adopted numerous measures since then perpetuating its status as the capital. But Turkey, which apart from Egypt is the only Moslem country to maintain diplomatic ties to Israel, has signaled that it is opposed to the Jerusalem bill and could take some punitive action if it is passed, diplomatic sources said.
Turkish Premier Suleyman Demirel, while not specifically threatening to sever relations with Israel last week, spoke out strongly against Israeli actions on Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir reportedly raised the question of Turkey's reaction at Sunday's Cabinet meeting.
The Foreign Ministry said tongiht that it was studying Venezuela's announcement and would convey its reaction to the ambassador. Officials said the government had received no direct complaint from Turkey.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Naftali Lavie, when asked if he expected other countries to follow suit replied, "I don't know what kind of pressure is being exerted on the Venezuelans to make them do this. It may be others are considering the same thing. But it is nothing that is going to change the minds of Israelis about Jerusalem. That is not the kind of thing that will change our minds."
Israeli officials have suggested that Venezuela was under pressure from its Arab partners in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to protest the Jerusalem bill and the pending transfer of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's office from West Jerusalem to predominantly Arab East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Shamir, in a speech at the Foreign Ministry, issued an unusually strong attack on Egypt for demanding what he termed "unending concessions" and encouraging "rude and insulting" comments by the media and public officials.
"In all of our moves in the peace process, we have been conducing ourselves . . . with maximum restraint, even when we have been faced with phenomena on the Egyptian side that [do not] seem proper to us," Shamir said. Without mentioning Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or anyone else by name, Shamir added, "In the face of our far-reaching restraint, we have seen excessive Egyptian attacks on our prime minister . . . ."
The Knesset's law committee tonight adopted two amendments to the Jerusalem bill, neither of which changes the demonstrative nature of the measure. One removes a specific reference to the borders of "unified" Jerusalem as established in the 1967 war, and another would guaranatee free access of al religious bodies to holy sites in the Old City and the clergy's participation in government affairs pertaining to those sites.
Begin's rightist Likud government opposed the amendments because it was felt that they would delay passage of the bill in the Knesset, which recesses for the summer Wednesday.