Tel Aviv (Oct. 27)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon expressed satisfaction with the progress made during Ali’s three-day visit to Israel. But at an airport press conference before the Egyptian delegation flew back to Cairo, neither sought to play down the differences still existing. “Friends may have differences which still remain to be discussed,” Ali stressed.
He thanked Sharon and his Israeli hosts for the very warm reception accorded the Egyptians and the friendly atmosphere in which the talks had been held. “They were very constructive and we achieved much,” Ali said. He added that stress should no longer be placed on “normalization” because relations between the two countries were already normal.
“We overcame many problems and reached agreement in the field of tourism, on aviation matters, roads, passes and agreed on certain facilities to be granted by both sides,” he said. Autonomy would be discussed at a “limited ministerial level meeting in Cairo” next week, he said.
CAMP DAVID MOST PRACTICAL APPROACH
Replying to a question about Egypt’s attitude towards the Saudi Arabian peace initiative, Ali stressed that he regarded the Camp David accords as the only practical path to be followed to reach a satisfactory
solution to the Middle East problem. He noted that the Prince Fahd initiative was not the only solution proposed — others had come from Rumania and the Soviet Union — but all were not as practical as the Camp David approach.
Asked by an Egyptian correspondent about Israel’s views on Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, Sharon said that “for generations, in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Jews and Arabs lived side by side, for hundreds of years …. I know this country well, and I cannot see any line in the land of Israel on one side of which Jews should live, and Arabs on the other side of it.”
“In the past, Jews and Arabs have lived here together, and they will continue to live here together for ever,” Sharon added.
Ali however, repeated the Egyptian view that Arab Jerusalem was part of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, adding that “some Israeli officials” had said that the question of Jerusalem was negotiable. The questions of Jerusalem and of Jewish settlement were the most difficult of all questions under discussion, and debate on these points, should be left until later.
On Jerusalem, Ali recalled Anwar Sadat’s proposals for two municipalities and a higher committee for Jerusalem, but added it was too early, and a press conference was not the place to debate this issue.
U.S. ROLE PRAISED, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL
Sharon noted the great assistance rendered by the United States in helping reach agreement in negotiations during the past three years but he expressed satisfaction that the agreements reached during Ali’s three days in Israel proved that an American presence or mediation was not essential.
“We are both sovereign states, and can negotiate and reach agreement on our own,” he said. He noted that American delegates would be attending future talks.
Communications Minister Mordechai Zippori noted today that Ali’s visit helped both sides, after months of failure, to move forward on communications problems, including telephone services. Great advances were made and agreements reached, he said.