LONDON (Dec. 6)
Israeli Premier Menachem Begin said here last night that he welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s visit to the Middle East beginning Friday with the hope that he will be able to convince all of Israel’s Arab neighbors to join the peace-making process now entered into by Israel and Egypt. He said he did not rejoice over the bitter split in Arab ranks over Egypt’s peace initiative because Israel wanted treaties with all its neighbors “in the south, the east and the north.”
“The road to peace is open and we shall keep it open,” he told Anglo-Jewish leaders at a fundraising dinner of the Joint Israel Appeal. But he was adamant on the issue of a Palestinian state. He said such a state in Judaea and Samaria would be a mortal danger to Israel. “Of course,” he added, “there are Palestinian Arabs as we are Palestinian Jews and there is a problem which we want to solve decently and with human dignity.”
Begin said he had faith in Egypt’s desire for peace. He noted that Egypt, which must feed 900,000 more mouths every year, needs peace. It would be “arrogant” to talk of Israel helping Egypt solve its internal problems, he said, but “we must help each other.” He urged more Jewish aid to Israel, noting that 300,000 Israelis live in abject conditions below the poverty line.
Begin cancelled all of his appointments this morning because of stomach pains diagnosed as possible food poisoning. His personal physician, Dr. Basil Lewis, a cardiologist from Hadassah Hospital, said it had nothing to do with his heart ailment. After an examination he said Begin’s cardiac condition was “pretty good.” However, the Premier was not able to attend a reception tonight in his honor given by Herut. He also had to cancel engagements with members of Parliament and with John Davies, the opposition spokesman on Foreign affairs.