“We want peace more than any nation on earth…For the sake of peace, for our people and the people of Egypt whom we wish well…we are deeply interested in the success of the tripartite meetings and shall make all endeavors possible to ensure that success.” So said Premier Menachem Begin of Israel after landing at Kennedy Airport in New York yesterday on his way to Camp David for a summit conference with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and President Carter, beginning tomorrow.
Begin, smiling and looking fit, arrived at 2 p.m. local time with his wife Aliza. He was accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman who will participate in the Camp David talks and a large entourage of advisors and aides. The Premier was greeted at the airport by New York Gov. Hugh Carey, New York City Mayor Edward Koch, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Yehuda Blum, and a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Theodore Mann, chairman of the Conference, was at the Vatican for Pope John Paul’s inauguration. (See story P.4)
Begin’s remarks at the airport were brief and he repeated what he had told reporters on his departure from Ben Gurion Airport earlier in the day. He said Israel wanted permanent peace and “to sign peace treaties with all our neighbors and bring an end to all wars that took place for 30 years in our region.”
He also said that Israel wanted the Camp David summit to uphold the integrity of President Carter as leader of the free world. “We in Israel are an integral part of the free world….We want to preserve liberty and the international prestige of the President is an important factor. For this reason, too, we want the tripartite summit to end in success and in successful agreements and we want to reach that agreement,” Begin said.
Begin and his party were driven directly to the Regency Hotel in Manhattan where the Premier will stay until he leaves for Camp David tomorrow. No major meetings were scheduled by him before then. Members of the Presidents Conference who were at the airport to welcome Begin, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they had no plans to meet with the Premier before the Camp David conference.
CARTER IS CAUTIOUS ABOUT SUMMIT
Carter said this morning “There is no cause for excessive optimism but there is also no cause for despair” over the possible results of the summit conference. He made his impromptu remarks to reporters minutes before he boarded a helicopter on the White House grounds for the trip to Camp David. “As we meet at Camp David no one can ensure the degree of success we might enjoy,” he said.
But, he observed, “the greatest single factor which causes me to be encouraged is my sure knowledge that Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat genuinely want peace. They are determined to make progress and so am I…Compromise will be mandatory if any progress can be expected. Flexibility will be the essence of our hopes,” the President said.
He added, “I know the seriousness with which President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin come to this country and I have tried to prepare myself as well as I possible could to bring success to these efforts. It will have to be a mutual thing and all of us will enter these discussions without prejudice toward one another, with a spirit of good will and with the realization of the sober responsibilities that fall on us,” Carter said. He confirmed that daily press statements would be issued during the Camp David meeting which is expected to last a week.
A MAJOR EVENT OF OUR TIME
In a live radio and television address to the Israeli people Saturday night, just hours before he left for the U.S., Begin described the Camp David summit as doubtlessly “one of the most important events of our time.” He stressed, however, his belief that it is not the last opportunity for peace. “In life there are never last chances, there are always new chances,” he said. He said he was going to Camp David with “a calm and confident heart” and with a peace plan based on “fairness and justice.”
Begin promised to “stretch out my hand to President Sadat and say to him, ‘when we met in Jerusalem and Ismailia, you said to me you were my friend. So let us renew that friendship.'” He said he has forgotten the personal insults leveled against him by the Egyptian news media and wanted to renew the vow of “no more war” that he and Sadat pledged during Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem last November.
Before leaving for the U.S., Dayan and Weizman said they had new ideas that were crystallizing and which might be raised at the Camp David talks if the situation required it. They did not elaborate. The Israeli delegation has been authorized by the Cabinet to make on-the-spot decisions at Camp David, if required, regarding changes in Israel’s peace plan and to listen with open mind to any new ideas or proposals.
MIGHT GO FOR DEFENSE PACT WITH U.S.
Begin himself hinted at a change in longstanding Israeli policy when he mentioned on two occasions last week his support for a possible defense agreement between Israel and the U.S. He made his first reference to such a possibility in an address at the closing dinner of the United Jewish Appeal’s Prime Minister’s Mission in Jerusalem Thursday night. He said that if Israel was asked to put certain facilities at the disposal of the U.S., “we shall do so.”
On Friday, after briefing President Yitzhak Navon on preparations for the Camp David summit, Begin told American reporters that Carter might bring up the idea of a defense pact to ensure Israel’s security in place of territories. He said he would reject the idea of a defense pact that would have American troops stationed on the West Bank. “We do not want American soldiers to camp in Judaea and Samaria and defend us,” he said. He added, however, that “if the U.S. will reach the conclusion that the interest of the free world favors a mutual defense pact, I shall recommend before the Cabinet to sign such an agreement.” Asked if it would be similar to the NATO agreement, Begin noted that the U.S. has signed many defense pacts outside NATO. He said the essential point in such an agreement was reciprocity. “We want to assist the free world of which we are an integral part but the basis for such an agreement must be reciprocity,” he said.
With Begin, Dayan and Weizman in the U.S., Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin assumed the post of Acting Premier and Acting Defense Minister. He moved temporarily into the Premier’s office, which is equipped with the necessary communications systems. Interior Minister Yosef Burg became Acting Foreign Minister but did not move into Dayan’s office.
Meanwhile, President Sadat left Cairo Sunday and arrived in Paris today for a stopover before continuing on to Camp David. He is scheduled to have talks with President Valery Giscard d’Estaing followed by dinner tonight at the Elysee Palace.
EGYPTIAN POSITION IS UNCHANGED
Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Boutros Ghali said in an interview published in the Paris daily Le Monde Saturday that Sadat’s trip to Camp David would be as important as his trip to Jerusalem last November. He stressed that the presence of the U.S. as a “full partner” in the talks completely changed the situation and suggested that the Camp David summit could prove to be the final stretch of the peace process.
The Egyptian official said, however, that his country’s position has not changed. But, he added, Egypt would prove to be extremely flexible if Israel recognised “the principle of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination.” He also said Egypt was agreeable to the idea of minor border rectifications on the West Bank but insisted that such changes had to be reciprocal. He said Egypt would never accept the demilitarization of Sinai.
TANGIBLE RESULTS A MUST
Meanwhile, senior American officials were reported over the weekend as warning that the discussions at Camp David must produce a tangible result or they will be a failure but they shied away from advancing the idea of a U.S. military presence as a solution to the Arab-Israeli impasse. Stressing that mere agreement for Egypt and Israel to extend their talks at a lower level following the summit is insufficient, a White House official emphasized that “no efforts will be made to dress up a cosmetic result” should no tangible compromise ensue.
A White House official said Friday after Begin publicly agreed for the first time to an American-Israeli mutual security treaty as a possibility, “it’s a long way from where we stand right now to talk of an American guarantee. A number of things have to be settled first,” including “substantive progress” at Camp David.
The White House official and others cautiously warmed to Begin’s remarks while indicating that the success or failure of the summit hinged on Begin’s willingness to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip or agree to a “framework” or “principles” amounting to the same thing over an extended period of a year.