NEW YORK (Dec. 28)
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt has declared that never in this generation will Egypt enter into diplomatic relations with Israel. But he said that his country was ready to “recognize the rights of Israel as an independent state” provided that Israel evacuates “every inch” of Egyptian territory it captured in the Six-Day War. That hard line was stated with fervor by the successor to the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in an interview with New York Times correspondent James Reston published today. It was the first detailed definition of Egypt’s conditions for peace but it did not contain, except by inference, Egypt’s demand that Israel submit a withdrawal timetable in advance of peace talks as a condition for extending the present cease-fire. Sadat said his government would “welcome a guarantee by the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France, of all Middle East borders including Israel’s” as a first step in a peace settlement.
Sadat said he was ready immediately to negotiate Israel’s “rights of passage” through the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. But he was adamant that the Suez Canal will not be open to Israeli shipping until there is a settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem. His stand on that subject was the first by an Egyptian leader to make the resolution of the refugee problem a pre-condition for Israeli navigation of the Suez Canal. (Government circles in Jerusalem characterized Sadat’s remarks to Reston as “yet another in a long chain of threatening statements from Egypt.” They told the JTA that “in the past three weeks there has been an escalation in the verbal position of Egypt, each public statement being less compromising and more threatening than the last.” Referring to Sadat’s stated willingness to recognize Israeli sovereignty after it withdraws from Egyptian territory, a government source told the JTA. “We shall judge Sadat by his actions rather than by his words.”)