Menu JTA Search

Sadat: Palestinians Have Right to Homeland in Israel but Opposes Israel’s Destruction

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

President Anwar Sadat of Egypt said in a filmed interview today that he would withstand Palestinian exhortations for the destruction of Israel. In his first interview as President for broadcasting in a foreign country, Sadat reiterated on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” that Israel must withdraw to the pre-Six-Day War boundaries, declaring: “We will not surrender one inch of our land… The Palestinian refugees have a right to their homeland… Israel is their land, their fatherland.” Asked by CBS News reporter Walter Cronkite whether his endorsement of Israeli existence under certain conditions would be acceptable to the Palestinians whose rights he also upholds, Sadat replied: “They have a right to accuse me, attack me, but this is a fact.” Regarding the more immediate situation, Sadat stated again that “If there is no practical solution by (United Nations mediator Gunnar V.) Jarring by Feb. 5, we shall not continue the cease-fire.” But he added: “Even if the problem is settled, we shall have war after five years. Israel wants expansion. It dreams of prophecies of land from the Nile to the Euphrates.” Sadat praised the Soviets’ role in Egypt, explaining that “they have stood with us in our black hours.” He charged that the United States was a party to Israeli “expansionism,” telling Cronkite: “(President) Johnson approved aggression in 1967. The whole plan was put before him and he approved it. He can’t deny it.” Cronkite responded: “I didn’t know that.”

Excerpts from the interview, conducted at the Presidential palace on the Nile south of Cairo, were aired on CBS-TV and CRS-Radio last Thursday night and Friday night. Sadat told Cronkite that while Egypt and the USSR were “two friends,” Egyptian policy “is made here, in Cairo.” His country relied for security not on a Soviet “guarantee” but on “the dignity, honor and history of our people,” he said, and the U.S. “misunderstands” the Soviet presence in Egypt, Soviet personnel are there as “advisors” to Cairo, he explained, “but the battle is my battle, it is not the Soviet battle.” It would be “humiliating” for him, he said, were he to turn his country over to the Kremlin. Sadat told Cronkite that while “it is my right and duty to liberate” the occupied Egyptian territory, “I am not insane enough” to provoke a U.S. – Soviet confrontation. He denied flatly that any Soviet pilots have flown or would fly over the Suez Canal. He said he “can’t confirm and can’t deny” that Egypt has ground-to-ground missiles, but contended that Israel had them. The Egyptian leader said he would accept a Big Power guarantee of agreed-on borders “because I need the guarantee more than Israel, believe me.”

NEXT STORY