VIENNA (Jul. 10)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress, said after a one-hour meeting with President Anwar Sadat here today that the Egyptian leader was generally optimistic over the prospects of an eventual peace settlement in the Middle East but not so with respect to the conference between the Israeli and Egyptian foreign ministers to be held in London July 18-19. Sadat expressed “keen disappointment” today over the Israeli Cabinet’s rejection of his peace proposals for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Sadat conferred for five hours yesterday with Shimon Peres, leader of Israel’s opposition Labor Alignment. They were joined during the first part of their sessions by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria and farmer West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, head of the Socialist International. They met privately afterwards for about 90 minutes. Kreisky had invited both men to meet in the Chancellory.
Goldmann told reporters after his meeting with Sadat that Sadat had found Peres to be more flexible than Premier Menachem Begin although they differed on many points. He said Sadat’s optimism over an eventual settlement stemmed from his confidence in the desire of the U.S. and other world powers to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict and avoid resort to war.
Sadat also said there was growing support for his peace initiative in the Arab world and cited Syrian President Hafez Assad’s recent public remarks favoring a political solution to the conflict with Israel, Goldmann reported.
STATUS OF JERUSALEM DISCUSSED
He said Sadat was not of a closed mind with regard to the future status of Jerusalem and did not necessarily advocate the repartition of that city. Sadat’s demand that Israel withdraw from all occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, was a major reason cited by the Israeli Cabinet for rejecting his peace proposals. According to Goldmann, Sadat told him that it was not geography but the legal status of the Old City of Jerusalem that had to be negotiated.
Goldmann said he had stressed to Sadat that although he (Goldmann) is an extreme dove, he would never countenance the re-division of Jerusalem. He said he suggested that the Old City be given special status within a united Jerusalem so that visitors would not require an Israeli visa to enter it. According to Goldmann, Sadat listened to this idea and indicated that it could be discussed in the negotiations.
Goldmann said there were details of his conversation with Sadat that he could not disclose. He indicated that Sadat had praised Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and said that while he respected Begin there was no basis at present for them to meet again.