JERUSALEM (Nov. 11)
President Anwar Sadat has ordered all official Egyptian visitors to Israel to refrain from conducting their state business in Jerusalem. This was reported by Kol Yisrael Radio and was subsequently confirmed by Israeli official sources. The radio report said Sadat had spoken of his order in conversations with President Yitzhak Navon during the latter’s recent visit to Egypt.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Burros Ghali cancelled a planned official visit to Jerusalem this week. Cairo’s official explanation was that he refused to meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Jerusalem.
Acting Premier Yigael Yadin advised Israelis Sunday night not to attach too much importance to this Egyptian, “boycott.” He noted that other states too. Where reservations regarding our position on Jerusalem …. What would we say if the Egyptians pointed out that other states have withdrawn their embassies from the capital?” Yadin advised Israel, therefore, to react coolly and said that he was confident that Sadat, “a pragmatic leader, ” would in time set aside this “boycott.”
Other Cabinet ministers, however, disagreed with Yadin. One of them argued privately that for Israel to seem to reconcile itself to the Egyptian “boycott” could produce the precisely opposite effect from that which the Deputy Premier predicted. It could lead to a hardening of the Egyptian “boycott” in an established and accepted practice, the minister contended.
Political observers here say the Egyptian ban on Jerusalem is a direct consequence of Israel’s recent Jerusalem Law. The Labor Party leadership delegation which visited Cairo last weekend gained the clear impression that Egypt was still gravely troubled by that law and by the possibility of a Golan Heights bill now under discussion among the Knesset factions.
The “boycott” of Jerusalem does not, of course, apply to Egyptian Ambassador Saad Mortada who met here in separate sessions yesterday with Interior Minister Yosef Burg and Foreign Minister Shamir.
PROGRESS TOWARD NORMALIZATION
The boycott of Jerusalem comes at a time of apparent progress in other areas of the normalization process between the two countries, with trade and cultural talks scheduled for early December. Meanwhile, a reception-given by El Al in Cairo Sunday night was hailed in Jerusalem official circles as something of a “breakthrough” on the normalization front in that it was well attended by Egyptian officials, reporters and businessmen.
Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar was quoted yesterday as saying this was for and away the best attended Israeli reception ever held in Cairo. In the past, there has been distinct coolness and reserve on the part of Egyptian officialdom and high society — excepting Sadat himself and his immediate aides — towards the small Israeli colony in Cairo.
The reception marked the inauguration of a fourth weekly El Al flight to Cairo. The airline is reporting heavy bookings and a high occupancy rate on its Cairo route.