HAIFA (Sep. 4)
Thousands of people jammed the port and city streets of Haifa this morning to give a rousing welcome to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, his wife Jihan, and their daughter Maha.
“This is but another step in the holy pursuit for peace,” the Egyptian leader told the cheering crowd as he stepped from his yacht, “Liberty,” onto Israeli sail. “And it is significant that it is taking place in Haifa, the living symbol of coexistence and fraternity between Arabs and Jews.”
Echoing his commitment on his visit to Jerusalem in November 1977, to avoid “bloodshed and futile conflict,” Sadat declared that “I am here to consolidate gains achieved along the road to peace. Every Egyptian is determined to make peace a living reality that expresses itself in all walks of life. The challenge is great, but the promise is greater.”
Sadat stressed that the Palestinians must be brought into the peace process. “I am determined to spread the umbrella of peace to include the Palestinian people,” Sadat said. “This is a moral commitment to which we remain loyal at all times.”
SADAT OFFICIALLY WELCOMED BY NAVON
The Egyptian President, making his third visit to Israel, was officially welcomed by President Yitzhak Navon. “Whether you come by land, or air, or sea, you will always reach the same destination: the hearts of our people. Navon said.” “We are confident that your visit will remove the impediments to peace …. Our differences should not be obstacles but challenges to be overcome.”
Navon declared that “in the future, not only will the flags of Israel and Egypt decorate our streets, but so will the flags of the other countries in the region as well.”
Sadat, dressed in a dark suit, inspected a guard of honor following a 21-gun salute. After his remarks, he walked down a long line of Israeli dignatories, shaking hands. He embraced Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and stopped for a brief talk with Shimon Peres, chairman of the opposition Labor Party.
Leaving the port, Sadat was welcomed at the gates of Haifa by Mayor Arye Gur with the traditional bread and salt. The Egyptian President said he brought with him the greetings of 41 million Egyptians “who insist on building a permanent peace in the area so that coming generations will live in harmony, fraternity and peace.” He said he hoped the meetings he would have today and tomorrow with Premier Menachem Begin would bear fruit. He smiled and added, “By now I know my friend Premier Begin, and I can do business with him.” (See related story P.3.)
ISRAELI, EGYPTIAN DELEGATIONS OPTIMISTIC
Some 30,000 school children, released from school especially for the event, as well as hundreds of other Haifa residents, waved Israeli and Egyptian flags at the presidential party as it made its way to the Don Carmel Hotel, where Sadat will stay for the next three days. The excitement evident in the city’s streets seemed to echo the optimism and warmth pervading both the Egyptian and Israeli official delegations.
This eighth summit between the two leaders is expected to focus on three main issues: the supply of Egyptian oil to Israel; the question of peacekeeping forces in Sinai and the projected autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza-Strip.
While Sadat has consistently left little doubt about his desire to avert any showdown with Begin over differences of opinion during the three-day summit, he nonetheless served notice before arriving here that he plans to press for an early wrap-up of the autonomy negotiations and to discuss the Jerusalem issue, including Egypt’s demand for the inclusion of East Jerusalem in the West Bank electoral constituencies.
Well-placed sources in Jerusalem indicated unrest over Sadat’s statements and his decision to concentrate on the autonomy rather than on outstanding issues involving the peace treaty.
VISITS PLANNED FOR SADAT
During his stay, Sadat will visit an Israeli kibbutz nearby as well as see other highlights of the area. His wife will visit a nearby Bedouin village and attend a seminar on rehabilitation with Ofira Navon, the Israeli President’s wife.
The first working session between Sadat and Begin was scheduled for tonight, followed by a state dinner with some 400 invited guests. While only one other working session is planned between the two leaders for tomorrow morning, Sadat’s schedule leaves ample time to incorporate additional working meetings it the need arises.
Begin will be assisted in his talks by Weizman and Interior Minister Yosef Burg, who heads the autonomy talks with Egypt. It is unclear at this point to what extent Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan will take port.
TWO FIRSTS MARKED BY VISIT
Sadat’s visit to Israel marks two firsts in the two-year-long peace negotiations with Egypt. His arrival by sea Inaugurates the sea corridor between the two countries, as his, arrival by air last May in Beersheba did for the air route. This is also the first time he has brought his wife and daughter to Israel.
Sadat’s yacht, which formerly belonged to King Farouk, left Egypt last night and reached Israeli territorial waters at 10 a.m. today accompanied by an Egyptian naval escort of a destroyer and two Soviet-made missile boats. Sadat, wearing the white uniform of an Egyptian admiral, stood on one of the three decks of the yacht and waved. The ship was greeted first by eight Israeli missile boats circling the ship and then By a fly-over of six Israeli-made Kfirs. An Israeli helicopter hovered over the flotilla at all times.
For Haifa, which has long felt it was ignored since most events take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, the day had special significance. Sadat’s visit was the first public ceremony at the port since Gen. Sir Alan Gordon Cunningham, the last British High Commissioner for Palestine, less in 1948.