JERUSALEM (Jan. 22)
Former President Gerald Ford, here with Mrs. Ford on a private visit, stressed last night that “The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. must remain unbroken” and promised “to help in any way I can” as a private American citizen, to further the peace process between Israel and Egypt.
The Fords arrived at Ben Gurion Airport yesterday from Cairo where the former President had meetings with President Anwar Sadat and other Egyptian officials. He met with Premier Menachem Begin last night and, according to press reports, expressed optimism for the eventual success of Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations. He reportedly based his optimism on his conversations with Sadat who was said to have expressed concern over developments in the region, especially in Iran and stressed the need to conclude a peace treaty with Israel in the near future.
Ford met with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan for breakfast this morning at the King David Hotel where they were joined by U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis. Dayan would not disclose the details of their conversation but indicated that it covered the Middle East situation. He described the former President as “quite knowledgeable about developments in the Arab countries.”
Last night Ford was awarded an honorary Ph.D. degree by the Hebrew University for his “outstanding contributions to his country, to Israel and the world at large.” Responding to the warm words of welcome by Hebrew University president Avraham Harman, ford declared that democratic societies have a special responsibility to stay together and work together. “The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. must remain unbroken, must be strengthened; fortified and I believe it will be so in the future as it was in the past,” He said.
FAILURE WILL PLEASE RUSSIANS
Later, at a dinner in his honor hosted by Begin, Ford said: “If the current peace negotiations prove successful, then the Israelis, the American Jews and the moderate Arabs will rejoice. If the negotiations fail, then the Russians and the extremist Arabs will rejoice. If you look at it that way, then there is only one thing to say: I do not want to please the Russians and the extremists. Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin was among the 60 invited guests. He and Ford greeted each other as old friends. Rabin was Israel’s Ambassador to Washington and got to know Ford well.
The former President and Mrs. Ford were greeted at the airport yesterday by Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir on behalf of the government and by Rabin, now a Labor MK. Thanking Tamir for his words of welcome, ford said.
“I come as a private citizen but I come as an individual whose record shows, I believe the desire on my part to help in any way I can to make constructive headway in the long, controversial and difficult issue in the Middle East. We seek peace and security peace with justice, and if I as a private citizen, can find any way that I can be helpful in an unofficial way, you can rest assured that I’ll do all I possibly can.”
Last night ford took time out between formal receptions to visit the Jerusalem television studios where he watched a satellite broadcast of the Super Bowl game in Miami. This morning, he and Mrs. Ford were conducted on a tour of East and West Jerusalem by Mayor Teddy Kollek. They visited the Yad Vashem, Herzl’s grave and the grave of Premier Golda Meir. Ford recalled his several meetings with Mrs. Meir. “This is an opportunity to pay tribute to what she did for Israel and for humanity in general, “he said. The Fords will visit Saudi Arabia and Syria after leaving Israel.