Navon. in Inaugural Address, Urges Sadat to Resume Peace Negotiations
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Navon. in Inaugural Address, Urges Sadat to Resume Peace Negotiations

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President Yitzhak Navon of Israel appealed to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, in his inaugural address this evening, to resume the peace process already started because too much hope has been planted in the hearts of the peoples of Israel and Egypt to let them down.

Speaking to a packed Knesset chamber where his inauguration was broadcast by radio and televised live and in color to Israel and the neighboring Arab states, Navon’s message to the Egyptian leader was that the road to peace ahead is shorter than the distance covered until now. He stressed that a settlement could be achieved only if all parties realized that they cannot achieve everything they desire.

He said that every Israeli government, past and present, and every Israeli political party, sincerely sought peace and was ready to pay the price for peace. The differences between them were only over the extent of the risk Israel should take upon itself in the pursuit of peace, he said.

He reminded the assembled Knesset members, government leaders and television viewers of the enthusiasm that infected both Israelis and Egyptians during and immediately after President Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem last November. Those responses proved beyond a doubt how both peoples longed for peace, he said.


Navon listed as Israel’s three most pressing problems peace and relations with the Arab world; aliya and relations with diaspora Jewry; and Israel’s cultural and moral standards. Increased aliya, he said, strengthened ties with the Jewish diaspora. But he warned that material inducements alone would never secure the mass aliya that Israel needed. Only a moral and spiritual challenge to young Jews will bring them to live in Israel, he said.

Speaking on the “quality of life” in Israel, Navon declared that after “thirty years of building the State, it is now time to build the nation….After thirty years of fostering quantity it is now time to put the accent on quality.” He said that what is required is to induce people to bring out the best in themselves instead of the worst, a national sense of purpose and challenge.

Outgoing President Ephraim Katzir, who declined to seek re-election after his term of office expired earlier this month, also addressed the Knesset. He spoke of the fateful years during which it had been his privilege to serve as President, beginning with the Yom Kippur War and ending with the first direct negotiations with Egypt, Israel’s largest neighbor.

Katzir stressed the need to close the social and cultural gaps in Israeli society, an aspect of national life with which he was preoccupied during his years in office. He said that the President’s residence had been a house and a home for Israelis and Jews of all walks of life and he was sure that Navon would continue in that tradition, adding to it his own special charm and grace.

Navon, Israel’s fifth President and the first of Sephardic background, took the oath of office at sundown in conformity with Jewish custom. Afterwards, he and Katzir and their wives hosted a gala reception attended by about 700 invited guests. Premier Menachem Begin, who was ill with fever over the weekend, attended the inauguration. He appeared animated but did not look too well.


Later in the evening, Israel radio and television broadcast a massage in Arabic from President Navon to Israel’s Arab citizens and viewers in the neighboring Arab states. Navon was visited at his temporary Jerusalem flat this morning by Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir and his deputies who formally invited the President to come to the Knesset in the evening to take the oath of office. Earlier, Navon paid a courtesy call on Begin at the Premier’s residence.

During the day, messages of congratulation poured in from world leaders and other well-wishers, among them President Nicolae Ceausescu of Rumania, President Ferdinand Marcos of The Philippines and President Walter Scheel of West Germany.

Katzir himself was the recipient of a message of “congratulations for a job well done” from President Carter. The U.S. President said, “Best wishes for many more years of health and productive labor. The dignified and effective manner in which you have represented Israel during the past five years has inspired respect in the United States and around the world. You have presided over an Israel that has gone from the dark days of October, 1973 to the hope-filled days since November 1977. I know that you will continue to make a positive contribution to the life of your nation and the world in the scientific field. . .”

Katzir, an internationally prominent bio-chemist, will leave shortly on a lecture tour of the U.S. and Europe before resuming his teaching and research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

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