LONDON (Dec. 4)
Egypt and Israel have gone too far towards a peace agreement to turn back, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, the prominent Egyptian journalist, and a critic of the Camp David agreement, said here Saturday night. However, in a hint at reconciliation with President Anwar Sadat, who removed him from the editorship of AI Ahram, Heikal said Sadat was trying to “ameliorate” the Camp David agreement.
In order to blunt the opposition of other moderate Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Sadat was trying to lay the basis of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was also trying to restore East Jerusalem to Arab control because failure to do so could affect the stability of the Saudi Arabian regime. “Getting a consensus in the Arab world is more important to peace than what was signed in Camp David,” Heikal said.
Heikal is in London to launch his latest book on the Middle East conflict and was being interviewed on BBC television. Until recently, he was barred from leaving Egypt. While criticizing the Camp David agreements, Heikal rejected suggestions that Sadat lacked popular support for his peace policies. He also denied that he was one of Sadat’s leading Arab critics and dismissed a suggestion that Sadat should step down.
However, he said a separate agreement with Israel would be “non-productive and dangerous” for Egypt, isolating her from Arab oil states who had donated $1.7 billion to her economy in recent years. Egyptian euphoria over a separate agreement would also wear off quickly, he said. Rather than sign a separate agreement, it would be better if Egypt signed none, Heikal noted.