The Chief of the tiny South Pacific Island of Maewa has offered refuge to all two thousand three hundred Vietnamese `boat people' stranded for two weeks aboard the freighter Tung An near Manila, in the Philippines.
GV & CU EXTERIOR Prime Minister's office building (TWO SHOTS)
SV PAN Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin leaving Knesset
SV Cabinet spokesman Arieh Naor speaking in English (THREE SHOTS)
SV peace campaigner Abie Nathan speaking in English
NAOR: "The government of Israel has decided to offer a haven to one hundred Vietnamese refugees to whom other countries have refused entry. The government of Israel calls upon other nations, large and small, to do their share in the small, to do their share in the absorption of the refugees from Vietnam. The government will dispatch a special plane to bring the refugees to Israel. A committee of senor officials has been appointed to deal with their absorption here in Israel. We think it is a symbol, and we are calling on all other nations to do their share in the absorption of those poor refugees."
NATHAN: "While I hoped for at least four hundred, I think it is still very important that at least a hundred were accepted. I think every refugee that can be removed from that ship in Manila is very important. And I shall continue to go round Europe and other countries to try to appeal to other governments to make their contribution."
Abie Nathan has made several peace trips to Egypt during the last fifteen years. Even before the cabinet's decision he had persuaded a Dutch charity to Charter a jumbo jet to fly refugees to Israel. A number of South-East Asian countries, including Malaysia and Thailand, which already have tens of thousand of Indochinese refugees, are now refusing permission for any more to enter their countries. Australian Immigration Minister, Michael MacKeller has accused Vietnam of sanctioning the mass exodus of `boat people'.
He says they have paid people responsible to the Vietnamese government up to four thousand U.S. dollars for a place on freighter leaving Vietnam.
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Background: The Chief of the tiny South Pacific Island of Maewa has offered refuge to all two thousand three hundred Vietnamese `boat people' stranded for two weeks aboard the freighter Tung An near Manila, in the Philippines. Morale on board the Tung An has risen after sixteen people were taken off the ship for resettlement in France and New Zealand. On Sunday (7 January) the Israeli cabinet met to discuss a suggestion by peace campaigner, Abie Nathan, that our hundred of the refugees be allowed to settle in Israel. The cabinet decided to allow one hundred of the `boat people' into the country.
SYNOPSIS: The meeting took place in the Prime Minister's office. The government said that by accepting the `boat people' it was making a symbolic gesture recalling the similar plight of Jewish refugees after the Second World War. Cabinet spokesman Arieh Naor told newsmen of the governments's decision.
Abie Nathan then commented on the decision