Jerusalem (Oct. 12)
Premier Menachem Begin returned from President Anwar Sadat’s funeral in Cairo confident that the Egyptian-Israeli peace process will continue under the regime of President-elect Hosni Mubarak and that the situation in Egypt in the aftermath of Sadat’s assassination is stable and under control.
Begin gave those assurances to the Cabinet at its regular weekly session yesterday, according to Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor. He said the Cabinet was briefed by Begin, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Interior Minister Yosef Burg, all of whom were in Cairo for the funeral.
Begin returned late Saturday night and told the press that he had found “a strong government in Egypt … A government which keeps control.” He expressed satisfaction with Mubarak’s statement to the newspaper Maariv last Friday that Sadat’s peace policy would remain unchanged.
PLEDGE PEACE FOREVER
Begin described his meeting with Mubarak in the Egyptian capital Friday as “a very simple, very dramatic moment. We shook hands and both pledged peace forever,” Begin said. He added that there was no cause for the concern voiced in some quarters that Egypt might be unstable in the wake of Sadat’s death. He said he found Cairo “quiet, with no indication of any disorder … They have the country under control.”
Begin acknowledged that there had been a violent clash during the week between Egyptian police and Moslem fundamentalists in Assyut in Upper Egypt. “But this sort of thing was to be expected after such a traumatic event,” he said. “They (the Egyptians) have something very serious to overcome … Egypt has suffered a great tragedy. But they will overcome.” He said, the transition of power appeared to be going smoothly and fast. Mubarak is expected to be sworn into office this week as Sadat’s successor.
Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich said in a radio interview after yesterday’s Cabinet session that there was no doubt among the Ministers that Israel must continue to carry out its part of the peace process “as energetically or even more energetically” than before.
PEACEFUL RELATIONS CANNOT BE REVERSED
President Yitzhak Navon said yesterday that the peaceful relations between Israel and Egypt cannot be reversed and that he was confident President-elect
Mubarak and other Egyptian leaders would continue to implement the peace agreement as planned. Navon spoke during a visit to the Bedouin village of Rahat in the Negev on the occasion of the Moslem feast of Id-Al-Adha.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials acted swiftly to squelch press speculation that Israel might advance the date of its final withdrawal from Sinai as a “gesture” to the new Egyptian government. The final pull-out is scheduled for April, 1982. Naor quoted Begin as saying that “politics is not a matter of gestures.”
Shamir was quoted as saying that the press speculation is entirely groundless. He said the withdrawal deadline is short enough and Israel has no reason to make it shorter.
Begin told the Cabinet of his meeting at the funeral with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany who Begin had bitterly attacked during the Knesset election campaign last spring for his alleged pro-Arab bias. He said he and Schmidt shook hands. But there was no indication as to whether the two leaders used the occasion to discuss a possible thaw in relations between their countries which have been frosty since Begin’s attacks on Schmidt.