Egypt Cancels Direct Airflight of UJA Leaders from Israel to Egypt

The first United Jewish Appeal Prime Minister’s Mission scheduled to fly directly from Israel to Egypt did not take off today. Instead they flew to Sharm el-Sheikh, the Israeli town on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula that is to be handed over to the Egyptians at the end of the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai.

The plan for a visit to Egypt was cancelled last night by the Egyptians. They said that at this stage of the peace process no Israeli planes should fly affectly to Egypt. The 300 UJA Mission leaders from the United States and Canada were scheduled to go to Egypt aboard an Israel Air Force plane which had taken this route many times in the recent past, usually carrying Israeli delegations, including the journalists covering the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks.

The Mission participants arrived in Israel yesterday. Shortly after arriving they were received by Premier Menachem Begin in his office in Jerusalem. He told them that recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization is tantamount to accepting the genocide of the Jewish people, rejected as “superfluous” any United States effort to introduce a new resolution on Palestinian rights in the UN Security Council, and said that tensions between Blacks and Jews in America would prove temporary.

Begin also told the UJA Mission members that Israeli air and land strikes against terrorist bases in south Lebanon are preemptive and have been effective in deterring terrorist attacks on Israel. He said that “If civilians are also hurt in these strikes, this causes us deep grief and sorrow.”He pointed out that the terrorists used Lebanon as a “sortie base” for attacks against Israel and that “we are trying to hit the terrorists at their bases prior to their actions.”

On the issue of Black Jewish tension in the U.S., following the resignation of Andrew Young as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Begin said this was “a passing episode. “Jews always stand for civil rights and equality of rights, he said. He added that whoever recognizes “the so-called PLO is in effect recognizing genocide, both as for as the objectives and the methods are concerned.

Meanwhile, despite the cancellation of the UJA flight to Egypt, the Foreign Ministry learned here this week that Egypt had officially notified the International Civil Aviation Organization about the termination of the state of war between the two countries and waived her longtime “exceptions” regarding Israel in the international covenant of the organization.

This notification is in line with an Egyptian commitment to cancel all exceptions toward Israel in international conventions which were made as a result of the state of war between the two countries.

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