JERUSALEM (Jul. 20)
The recent sharp exchanges between President Anwar Sadat and Premier Menachem Begin over Jerusalem is souring relations between the two countries. Sadat said, in an interview with Yediot Achronot Friday, that he would not visit Israel at this time as previously planned because of “personal critical comments” by Begin. He said he would reconsider only after “Begin calmed down.”
The Egyptian leader said, however, that he would invite President Yitzhak Navon to Cairo to address the People’s Assembly (Parliament) in reciprocation for Sadat’s speech to the Knesset in November, 1977, Sources close to Navon indicated today that the President would accept such an invitation if it was extended formally but only if the government approved. They also made it clear that Navon would consult closely with Begin before making such a trip and would coordinate his address in Cairo with the Prime Minister.
Begin, who is convalescing at his home from a mild heart attack, reacted strongly last Tuesday to Sadat’s assertions in a Readers Digest interview that Israel, and Begin specifically, was responsible for the deadlock in the autonomy negotiations. Begin replied that the negotiations could be completed successfully if the Egyptian President would “stick to the Camp David accords”.
According to diplomatic practice, it is Sadat’s turn to visit Israel since Begin was last in Egypt. Sadat told Yediot Achronot that he has shelved his plans because Begin was plainly “in a depressed mood.”
BEGIN EAGER TO ADDRESS EGYPT’S PARLIAMENT
Apparently Sadat has no intentions of inviting Begin to Egypt at this time although the Premier has indicated on several occasions that he would like to address the Egyptian Parliament to explain Israel’s political positions. His visit has failed to materialize because of repeated Egyptian delays in extending the invitation. Sadat said several months ago that he would not advise Begin to come to Cairo because it would “cause anti-Israel feelings in the Egyptian public.”
Sadat expanded his views on Jerusalem in the Yediot Achronot interview. He favored a unified city with a single mayor, either Jewish or Arab, heading one municipal government. He proposed municipal autonomy for East Jerusalem where an Arab flag would be raised over the town hall. He said Israeli flags could fly from the Western Wall, “although it is located in the eastern part of the city.”
KEEPING CLOSE WATCH ON EGYPT
Meanwhile, Israeli political and security circles alleged that Egypt has recently adopted extreme positions with respect to implementing the peace treaty and has, in effect, taken stands that are contrary to its agreements with Israel. Those views were reported in Hoaretz Friday.
Sources at the Prime Minister’s Office said, however, that it was too early to tell whether there has been a definite deterioration in relations with Cairo. They said Israel was keeping a close watch on Egypt’s implementation of its agreements with Israel.
The sources declined to comment on Sadat’s latest interview. They said they did not know of any specific plan for Sadat to visit Israel at this time but that the invitation to him still stands.