Ghorbal Talks of Peace with Israel; Urges West Bank Settlements Freeze

Ashraf A. Ghorbal, Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States, called on Israel today to take the decision “to freeze the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Addressing a luncheon given by the American Jewish Congress at the Pierre Hotel, he declared that “building settlements on Arab occupied land does not help the atmosphere of reason, let alone trust. Peace for Israel will not come from the establishment of settlements, Jewish ghettos in Arab surroundings.” Ghorbal said “peace with Israel will come in co-living in harmony, in normalization, in exchange of goods, of services, of people and of ideas.”

He said that Israel should not succumb to the “extremists or the rejectionists in the Israeli camp” and called on Israel to recognize the Palestinians and “the right to national fulfillment.” Ghorbal declared that Egypt will not give in to the demands by the Arab extremists. “We will not succumb to pressure or temptation whatever the billions that are offered or the threats that are waged,” he said. His remarks were apparently in reference to the recent Arab summit meeting in Iraq which offered Egypt billions in return for terminating negotiations with Israel.

During his half-hour speech, Ghorbal reiterated several times that his country is interested in a comprehensive Middle East settlement. “We tell the Israelis frankly and honestly not to accept peace on one hand and war on the other–peace with Egypt on one hand and war with the other Arabs on the other hand. We insist for our sakes, for Israel’s sake, and for the sake of peace in the whole area that we pull into the melting pot of peace our Arab countries.”

Declaring that “so much is at stake that success must be achieved for lasting peace to prevail,” Ghorbal disclosed that Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil, who just left Washington to return to Cairo, had talked a few times by telephone to Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman.

He also noted that the other contacts of the Egyptian Prime Minister and the upcoming visit of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to Cairo and Jerusalem is another indication as to how much success for the peace treaty is sought. “I feel that after all that has been done and after all the effort that has been exerted on all sides, no one can afford to let go of the chance of peace that at long last is there. The present momentum cannot be allowed to fade away,” Ghorbal declared.

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