JERUSALEM, SEPT. 10 -- Israel today reacted cautiously to U.S.-Soviet diplomacy at the Helsinki summit, saying it welcomed President Bush's apparent rejection of efforts to link the Persian Gulf crisis with the Arab-Israeli conflict, but expressing wariness about the prospect of greater Soviet involvement in Middle East affairs.
The government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made no formal statement, saying it was awaiting more detailed reports on the discussions. But officials said informally that they were pleased by Bush's statement that efforts to implement U.N. resolutions calling for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait could not be connected to previous U.N. calls for Israeli withdrawal from the Arab West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it captured in 1967.
Although Bush mentioned the possibility of an international peace conference to solve the Arab-Israeli problem, a step favored by the Soviet Union and strongly opposed by Israel, officials here said they were satisfied that the reference was superficial. "There is a certain satisfaction in Jerusalem that the attempt to link Israel to the gulf didn't work, and that the international conference did not get any concrete formulation," a Foreign Ministry official said.
Several senior officials here said there also was some uneasiness in the government about the statement of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Helsinki that Bush had welcomed expanded Soviet involvement in the Middle East. "If Soviet policies remain what they have been," one official said, "then we would be against any expanded Soviet role."
At the same time, officials pointed out that Soviet-Israeli relations continue to improve. A high-level Israeli Foreign Ministry delegation is due to visit Moscow this week to prepare for talks next month at the United Nations between Foreign Minister David Levy and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.