HAIFA (Sep. 6)
Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat reiterated their pledge to peace in the Middle East at a state dinner conducted in their behalf last night.
“We shall not be discouraged, ” Begin told some 150 persons assembled in the Dan Carmel Hotel, many of whom had attended the larger and more lavish dinner the night before. “We signed a great, international document, a peace treaty. We will carry it out in good faith, in cooperation, in understanding, in friendship, for the good of our peoples and of the region and of the world.”
Noting the need to “set an example of how understanding between nations can be achieved and how they live together in peace, the Premier observed ironically that in contrast to days past, when “war was attacked as a tragic, horrifying phenomenon, ” now peace is being condemned “in international conference halls, by official communiques, by various spokesmen … what a damaging action. What has always been a praiseworthy cause for joy and rejoicing has become in certain circles a cause for alarm.”
PALESTINIAN PROBLEM MENTIONED
In turn, the Egyptian President firmly expressed his commitment to a comprehensive peace. “We are determined to take the road (of peace) no matter what the obstacles might be. We made a firm commitment to our peoples and all the nations of the world to pursue the noble goal of peace and reconciliation. This is not merely a line of policy. It is a sacred mission that started the day I visited Jerusalem.
Likening the road of negotiations to a road followed by the Prophets and great reformers throughout history, Sadat, in a slightly less tenacious tone than the night before, observed that “a humane and thoughtful approach to the Palestinian problem can perform miracles. Reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian people is the shortest route to a new era of peace and happiness. “Sadat added: “You have your legitimate concern, Similarly, they (the Palestinians) have their legitimate rights and aspirations. We want these ends to meet.”
CRITICAL OF ARAB COUNTRIES
Meeting today with Israeli editors, Sadat said the peace treaty with Egypt no longer depended on him only. “Egypt is no longer a one man country, but a democratic country.” He said the majority of the Egyptians supported the peace treaty in the referendum that took place after the signing of the treaty, and therefore there was no fear that his successor might change the peace policy.
Sadat repeated the pledges he made in his Knesset speech two years ago that there will be no more war after the Yom Kippur War, and that any settlement would take into consideration the security needs of Israel.
Sadat was very critical of other Arab countries, noting that most of them suffered from internal instability, and could therefore hardly be taken seriously when they opposed the peace treaty. This proves that Egypt took the right path when it engaged in the peace initiative, he said.
Sadat argued that the peace process has proven fruitful for Egypt: she had retrieved EI Arish and shortly will regain the oil fields, and at the same time she is negotiating autonomy for the Palestinians.
On the other hand, the other Arab countries are troubled with internal strife. “Saddam Hussein (the new Iraqi President) had to remove his President, and kill his very intimate friends…. In Syria the situation is deteriorating.” He mentioned the tragedy in Lebanon, and the conflicts between Algeria, Morocco and Libya. Even Saudi Arabia suffers from in stability with the King staying for extended periods in Switzerland. In the midst of all this, Egypt is an island of peace and love, Sadat said.
He again repeated his belief that by the end of this year other countries, in the first place, Jordan, would join the peace process. Furthermore, Sadat said, at this stage there is no real need for the Palestinians to join the talks, al though if they wish to do so they would be welcome. But after three years of the existence of autonomy, the Palestinians will have to participate because their participation will be vital for their destiny.
“Let us stick together to the cornerstone of the whole comprehensive settlement, that is Camp David and the Egyptian-Israeli treaty. Everything after that will be solved easily…. Differences of opinion ? — Yes. But conflicts — I don’t think we shall have any conflicts between us.”
DISCLOSES ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND
To wind up the news conference, the Egyptian leader was asked what he would write about the Haifa summit, if he were a journalist.
“I am not a journalist any more,” he said. “It is a very difficult job for me…. I wonder if it is only coincidence that a few days before I arrived here my archaeologists found the ancient city of lon, where Joseph lived, married and studied. We have found the houses of the priests. My archaeologists are now doing their best to locate the house of Joseph. I have told my friend (Deputy Premier Yigael) Yadin (a noted archaeologist) yesterday to come and join….But write this. whenever we find the house of Moses, I shall refuse any Israeli claim of territory. ” The 3000-year-old site of lon near Cairo was also once the home of Moses and where Plato studied. It was the world cultural capital at the time.
Sadat also told the editors that he was deeply moved by the warm reception he and his family received from. the people of Haifa. He invited Haifa residents to come and spend their vacations in Alexandria. ” In Alexandria every summer we have one and -a-half vacationers. Well, we can add the whole population of Haifa, “he said.
Prior to the state dinner last night, Sadat initiated a meeting with a four-member delegation of the Peace Now movement where he thanked them for their contribution to the peacemaking process. During the 15-minute meeting he invited the delegation to Egypt, although no exact date was set. The dele gation, in turn, expressed appreciation to Sadat for the initiative he took which set the peace process in motion.
Sadat left Israel this afternoon by plane from Ben Gurion Airport, Before leaving, he declared: “We came to Harfa with a message of love and friendship. We leave today with a renewed sense of hope and confidence in the future. The sentiments expressed by every Israeli throughout our visit were overwhelming. I take this not only as a message for the Egyptian people but also as a world of confidence for the prospects of peace…. I am very pleased with the ever-growing friendship between our peoples. Very soon our relations will reach a new era for our common benefit.” He concluded in Arabic. “Peace upon you and God’s blessings.”
Begin, in response, expressed the gratitude of Israel for Sadat’s visit and declared: “This was a momentous visit and provided positive results. Again it was proved that the warmth of the hearts of our people as that of the Egyptian people bring them, with every visit you paid to Israel and I paid to Egypt, nearer and closer. We have very serious discussions. During this visit again close intimate friendship was established between the representatives of our countries, which in our time is a treasure to be guarded, cherished. ” Begin concluded: ” We do not say goodbye. We say au revoir.”