Houston (Oct. 25)
Significant differences between Egypt and Israel over the requirements for Middle East peace emerged here last night in speeches by Ashraf Ghorbal, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, and Moshe Guidron, Consul General of Israel in Houston. Both addressed a dinner at the annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee’s National Executive Council, attended by nearly 500 delegates. The four-day gathering ended today.
The Egyptian envoy made the point that Israel’s basic security needs were met when it concluded its peace treaty with Egypt, its most powerful neighbor, without which an Arab war against Israel is not possible. He stressed that Israel’s problem is therefore psychological.
Ghorbal also claimed that the cease-fire in Lebanon is “a vital first step” and expressed hope that it will be built upon and eventually be transformed “into a peace treaty” between Israel and the Palestinians.
REAL, NOT PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
Guidron took sharp issue with those points. “With reference to finding solutions to crucial issues, we can not consider the cessation of hostilities on the Lebanese border as a precedent to direct contact between Israel and terrorist organizations,” he said.
“This cessation was reached through the efforts of Ambassador (Philip) Habib (President Reagan’s special envoy to the region) and the government of Lebanon. Israel will absolutely not be the first to use even one weapon unless we have to defend our northern settlements from another attack by a terrorist organization — the same organization which announced, and I quote, ‘we shake the hand that fired the bullet that killed Sadat’.”
Guidron also observed that while the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt “is a magnificent achievement … however, it is not the total solution for the security of Israel. We must reach peace with our other neighbors as well. Therefore, the problems which we must overcome are not psychological, they are real. Simply put, we have to protect our existence. A comprehensive and lasting peace can only exist with a strong Israel in secure borders.”
SAYS EGYPT TO CONTINUE PEACE
Ghorbal began his address by declaring, “Today Egypt is determined to continue Sadat’s long journey of peace. It pledges to honor all its commitments under Camp David and the peace treaty. It has no doubt Israel will do the same.”
He added: “The autonomy talks will continue, hopefully to a successful conclusion. Negotiations will continue and prosper. Reconciliation between Egypt and its Arab neighbors will not be at the expense of its ties to Israel. A close relationship with the U.S. will remain a cornerstone of Egypt’s foreign policy.”
Ghorbal went on to say, “I live with no illusions. The road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a difficult one. I know very well of the suspicions prevailing on both sides. I know of the fears, the doubts, the misconceptions. However, we can act as a bridge between Israel and the Palestinians. We can speak out of our own experience. We must convince the Palestinians of the benefits of peace as we saw them. And we must convince the Israelis that peace with the Palestinians is possible, just as it became a reality with the Egyptians. Our task has thus become one of reconciliation between opposing sides.”
Ghorbal also said: “I am aware of Israel’s security concerns. But let us remember that her real security needs were already met when Egypt made peace with her; Egypt, the largest and most powerful of her Arab neighbors; Egypt without whom there can be no war and no peace in the area. Without Egypt, no Arab effort could ever threaten the security of Israel. This is a reality that should never be overlooked, a reality that leads us to say that a great portion of Israel’s problem is psychological. We must help her overcome it. A vital first step was already taken in Lebanon.
“For the first time, a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians is in effect across the borders. Let us build upon it and transform it into a peace treaty.” Ghorbal also paid tribute to the late Moshe Dayan, “the formidable foe that he was and the staunch peace-maker that he, too, became.”
CONDEMNS BOMBING OF EGYPTIAN OFFICE
Meanwhile, the AJCommittee’s National Executive Council expressed shock and outrage today at the fire-bombing of the Egyptian Government Tourist Office in New York City early this morning for which a militant Jewish group claimed responsibility.
A resolution adopted here referred to last week’s bombing of a synagogue in Antwerp as “an act of terrorism directed against Belgian Jews” and “against persons of all religious faiths.” It added: “We are also shocked and outraged at the bombing of the Egyptian Tourist Office in New York City this morning. This act of terrorism was directed against the hopes of all mankind for peace in the Middle East and ultimately the world. We pledge ourselves to do all in our power to eradicate the spread of terrorism that plagues the civilized world.”
(New York police reported that two fire bombs were tossed into the Egyptian Tourist Office which was unoccupied at the time, causing extensive damage. There were no injuries. Police said they were investigating telephone calls to local news agencies claiming that the Jewish Defense League did the bombing.)
(A person identifying himself as Arno Weinstein, national director of the JDL, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by phone this morning that the JDL was not responsible for the bombing but approved of the act. “We do not take responsibility but if this act was to expose the fraudulence of the Camp David accords we fully support it,” the caller said.)