JERUSALEM (Jul. 15)
Premier Menachem Begin reacted strongly today to an interview by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat blaming Begin for the deadlock in the autonomy negotiations. Begin responded to Sadat in language similar to what Sadat used in an interview in the August issue of Readers Digest saying the negotiations could be successfully completed within a matter of hours if the Egyptian President would “stick to the Camp David accords.”
In the interview, Sadat said that “more than 90 percent of the Israeli people want peace. But it appears that Mr. Begin cannot bring himself to leave what he calls Judaea and Samaria because…it is Biblical.”
In a statement that he dictated at his home, where he is now recovering from a mild heart attack, Begin said that if Sadat wanted an agreement on the autonomy, he had to instruct his officials not to make proposals which contradicted the Camp David accords. These proposals constituted a threat to the security of Israel and its future, Begin said.
“I, too, could have said that 95 percent of the Egyptian people want peace unlike the Egyptian government,” Begin said. “But there is no need for that.”
Begin rejected Sadat’s complaint that if he, Begin, would have given different instructions to the autonomy delegation, they could have reached a quick agreement. He said the difference between the Israeli and Egyptian regimes was that in Egypt Sadat could instruct his officials whatever he liked, in Israel the Premier had no such authority. Only the Cabinet could make decisions, which guide the Israeli delegation to the negotiations, Begin stressed.
EGYPTIAN PROPOSALS CONTRADICT CAMP DAVID
Begin outlined the Egyptian proposals which contradicted the Camp David accords: the revision of Jerusalem, the nature of autonomy, and the security question. Begin concluded his reaction as follows:
“President Sadat expects from me that I should go back on my conviction that Eretz Yisrael is the land of my forefathers. It is my duty to reply to him — with respect, friendship and calmness — that this expectation is but an illusion. Eretz Yisrael is the land of our forefathers. Every Jew, Christian and Moslem knows this truth.”