NEW YORK (Feb. 10)
David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, said here that the bank’s decision to open branch offices in Egypt and to make an $80 million loan to help build an Egyptian oil pipeline was good for Israel and that the Israel government recognized it. Rockefeller said this was so because the more President Anwar Sadat uses foreign investment to build his economy the less likely is he to go to war against Israel. He said, “No doubt the Israelis recognize that Sadat is changing the face of Egypt in a very significant way, a way that is bound to be beneficial to them in the long run.”
Rockefeller, who visited Egypt and Israel a week ago, said that one way to encourage investment is free trade zones, and that the bank’s function in them was “to act as the bellwether, encouraging others.” He said he wanted to test the reactions in Israel, “where we have close ties.” He added that Chase Manhattan has no branches in Israel but that Israel has not sought them.
In response to his feelers. Rockefeller said, “two prominent members of the Israeli government” indicated that Sadat’s emphasis on economic development was “very promising for the future” because the more Sadat concentrated on helping Egypt’s economy and restoring cities along the Suez Canal, “the less likely he is going to be to want to start the war again and therefore, they said, the more foreign investment that goes into Egypt, the better we like it.”
Rockefeller said Sadat “really wants peace and wants to be the person who will have brought Egypt back as a strong economic entity.” Report- ers noted that high-placed Egyptian officials have Warned that if negotiations with Israel bog down, Egypt will not hesitate to renew the fighting, and that during the 1969-70 war of attrition and during the Yom Kippur War, Egypt did not hesitate to fight despite the destruction of its investment in the canal-side commercial centers.
Rockefeller said that “obviously, there is always that kind of a risk but I think the point the Israelis were making was that if the Egyptians start rebuilding the cities along the canal, and they estimate this will cost $7 billion, it seems unlikely that they are going to risk again that being destroyed.”