NEW YORK, JUNE 25 -- Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in what he describes as an unusual letter, has personally appealed to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev not to bow to Arab pressure and cut off the flow of Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel.

In the May 29 letter, made available to Reuter today, Shamir also assured Gorbachev that Israel does not have a policy of "directing" Soviet Jews to occupied Arab lands and said only a handful had settled there. Housing Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday that Israel would continue not to send Soviet Jews to the occupied territory.

Gorbachev, in his talks with President Bush in Washington earlier this month, raised the prospect of cutting off Jewish emigration to Israel if the immigrants were settled in territories seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Arab nations have argued that Jewish immigrants could be used to overwhelm Palestinian inhabitants in the occupied territories, but Shamir described that argument as a smokescreen for Arab objections to any Jewish emigration to Israel.

Shamir began his letter by saying, "I take the liberty of an unusual measure in writing you concerning the Jews of the Soviet Union and their emigration to Israel."

He praised the Soviet Union "under your leadership for the opening of gates for the Jews who yearn for their historic homeland."

He added, "We know that certain pressures are exerted upon the Soviet Union in this issue . . . on the part of Arab countries and organizations. The argument for this is that Jews coming to our country from the Soviet Union settle in part in {the occupied territories}. May I bring to your attention, in the most sincere and official way, that the campaign initiated by the Arabs does not concern settlement in those 'territories' but Jewish immigration to Israel as a whole and the very existence of the state of Israel."