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Israeli Journalists Receive Warm Welcome in Egyptian Capital

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Israeli journalists have begun reporting and broadcasting from Cairo and with diplomatic developments marking time before the Cairo conference opens, the main news is about the warm welcome they received from Egyptian officials and from Cairenes in general and the small Jewish community in particular. But Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, at the Cabinet session today , rebuked two television journalists for going there. (See related Story P. 2.)

There are at least a half dozen Israeli correspondents in the Egyptian capital and more arrive each day. Most of them entered Egypt with non-Israeli passports. These include Ada Luciana of Rome and Tamar Golan of Paris, who were sent by Maariv, Hans Knopp of Amsterdam and Eliezer Strauch who are covering for Yediot Achronot, and Ben Ami, another Yediot man from Israel who made his first broadcast from Cairo Friday over Israel’s armed forces radio station.

The biggest stir was created by Sami Greenspan of Yediot Achronot, who was the first Israeli reporter to land at Cairo Airport with an Israeli passport. He arrived late Thursday night via Rome without an entry visa. He was kissed on both cheeks by the Egyptian passport control officer and given permission for a week’s stay in the country.

Greenspan attended Saturday morning services at Cairo’s Great Synagogue. The congregants, mostly people in their seventies, were overcome by emotion. They kissed his Israeli passport with tears in their eyes and offered prayers for the safety of Israel, the well being of the visiting journalists and for peace.

Greenspan is traveling around Cairo with an Egyptian bodyguard and an official car and driver provided by the Ministry of Information. He was told that since his arrival he received so much publicity, “we have to protect you from subversive elements.”

ISRAELI SOUVENIRS IN GREAT DEMAND

So far, the only protection needed seems to be from souvenir hunters. Anything of Israeli origin is suddenly in great demand in Cairo. Israel made cigarettes and Israeli coins are the most desired items. Israeli journalists draw crowds wherever they are recognized but it is a friendly curiosity. Knopp reported a chance meeting with an Egyptian general at an airline office. The general asked him to convey regards to Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman who he said he regarded as one of the best air force officers in the world. Weizman formerly commanded Israel’s Air Force.

Strauch, who has been meeting with Egyptian editors, reported that political circles in Cairo regard the Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization rejection of President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiatives as a blessing. The absence of those elements from the Cairo conference will allow negotiations to proceed without the threat of a crisis in the initial stages, they say.

BASIS FOR AGREEMENT

These circles acknowledge that there is a wide gap between the Israeli and Egyptian positions on territorial issues and the Palestinian problem, Strauch reported. But they believe that if Israel and Egypt are allowed to negotiate with only the Americans and some other advisors around, a bilateral agreement could be reached.

As the Egyptians see it, however, such an agreement would require a declaration of Israel’s readiness to yield something toward the aspirations of all parties in the Middle East conference. If the talks fail, the Egyptians fear the momentum toward peace will be set back and Sadat would suffer a great loss of prestige, Strauch reported.

With the Cairo conference now scheduled to open at the middle of the month, the Israeli news media, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, have applied for permission to send correspondents to Egypt. The Cairo weekly Akbar El Yom reported yesterday that Israel has asked Egypt to admit 200 journalists to cover the talks. The paper did not say how and where the request was made. It reported that there were also requests from 400 American journalists.

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