NEW YORK (May. 7)
Israeli Premier Menachem Begin called on Egyptian President Anwar Sadat today to “renew the spirit of Jerusalem and Ismailia.” Appearing on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press,” Begin said this spirit was important to the Middle East peace process.
The Israeli Premier explained that at his meetings with Sadat in Jerusalem and Ismailia there were discussions despite “differences” between the two. He said there should be negotiations without ultimatums. He noted that Israel has proposed a peace plan and it was ready to discuss any counter proposals offered by Egypt.
Begin said he has “hope” that the peace talks will be resumed. “The specific reason for hope is that there is always hope,” he said when asked on what he based his hope. “Both of us need peace.”
The Premier said the United States now agrees to the necessity for Israel to keep its troops on the West Bank during the five-year proposed self-rule plan by Israel for the West Bank and Gaza would be in effect. He said the U.S. understands the troops must be there for Israel’s “serious security problem.” Begin said he did not know what the status of the troops would be after the five years since that would have to be decided then.
APPEALS TO AMERICAN FAIRNESS
In other major appearances in New York over the past three days, Begin told some 1900 guests at a dinner sponsored by the Economic Club that the Carter Administration’s proposal to sell war planes
The highlight of the evening, however, came during the question and answer period when Begin became involved in an impromptu debate with former Undersecretary of State George Ball who supports the sale of planes to Saudi Arabia and who has urged greater concessions by Israel for peace.
Ball, questioning Israel’s opposition to the sale of planes to Saudi Arabia, said rejection of the sale would undermine the United States’ value as an honest broker “who can bring the contesting parties together.” He also contended that the U.S. could be of value to Israel only if it had the confidence of the Saudis, “a moderate, anti-Communist nation.”
Dealing with this issue, Begin said it would make Saudi Arabia a confrontation state with a strike force of sophisticated weaponry less than a half hour flying time to Tel Aviv. He also recalled that the Saudis have said repeatedly their forces will be at the disposal of other Arab states in the event of a new war.
SEES AN EROSION OF SUPPORT
Addressing a closed meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and answering questions, the Premier said he had heard reports of erosion in American Jewish support but that he had found in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York a genuine devotion to Israel on the part of the Jewish people and also a deep sentiment for the security of Israel among Christians leaders he had met.
Asked whether Jewish dissent from Israel’s policies could be equated to treason to the Jewish cause, Begin responded that all Jews have a right to their opinions and to express them. But he said that he would ask the dissenters to look to their consciences and ask themselves whether what they said in public would strengthen or weaken those who negotiate for Israel. Begin also reiterated that he found no erosion in the U.S. of public support for his policies.
The Premier struck the same theme in his address to 1000 Jewish community leaders at an Israel 30th anniversary celebration sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies Joint Campaign. He said there was “no doubt the friendship of the peoples of American and Israel is everlasting.”He reiterated that Israel wants peace but will not sacrifice its security. Begin also appealed to the Soviet Union to ease its emigration policies for Jews who want to go to Israel. Robert H. Arnow, UJA-Federation campaign chairman, presided at the meeting.