Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem has asked Jesse L. Jackson to try to persuade the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan to allow Ethiopian Jews in those countries to resume immigrating to Israel.
Kollek made the request in a telegram Tuesday and a telephone call to Jackson here yesterday.
Jackson made preliminary calls to the Ethiopian and Sudanese embassies yesterday to schedule meetings with officials to determine if such an effort is feasible, a Jackson spokesman said.
"Reverend Jackson is trying to determine what Mayor Kollek wants him to do and to determine the feasibility of getting involved, to learn whether he can be helpful," spokesman Lamond Godwin said.
Between 7,000 and 10,000 Ethiopian Jews reportedly have been airlifted to Israel from Sudan, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 still in Ethiopia and other countries.
The airlift from Sudan was suspended last weekend, however, reportedly because news of the covert operation was leaked and Sudan feared that its cooperation in the project would open it to criticism from Ethiopia and Arab nations hostile to Israel. Although Sudan does not formally recognize Israel, it had allowed Ethiopian Jews who reached its borders to be airlifted to European cities and then to Israel, reportedly at the behest of the United States.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy here declined to comment yesterday except to say, "Where humanitarian questions are involved, we welcome any help. It is worthwhile to try any avenue."
In his telegram to Jackson, Kollek said: "Knowing your deep humanitarian convictions, permit me to suggest you approach the Sudanese government to permit the black Ethiopian Jews who have reached there, and the Ethiopian government to permit those that are still in Ethiopia, to join their families in Israel. The blessings of these people will be your greatest possible reward . . . . "
The request comes about a year after Jackson succeeded in persuading Syria to release Lt. Robert O. Goodman Jr., a Navy flier shot down on a combat mission in support of Lebanese troops.
Jackson has just returned from Rome and London where he met with Pope John Paul II and the archbishop of Canterbury. He urged the pope to visit South Africa and called for "a more just society" there.