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Ghorbal Urges Israel to Change Its Image As ‘an Unhappy Occupier’ and to Expand Its Cease-fire with

Ashraf Ghorbal, Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States, said last night that Israel should “change its attitude, doing away with its image as an unhappy occupier and create a relaxed atmosphere that would induce Palestinians to join the autonomy talks.”

Ghorbal said that “despite three decades of fears, doubts and misconceptions, Egypt can fill the role of bridge between Israel and the Palestinians.” He also urged that the cease-fire across the Israel-Lebanon border be expanded into a peace treaty “as the first step toward mutual recognition by Isralis and Palestinians.”

The Egyptian Ambassador’s remarks were part of an address to 4,000 delegates attending the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) 56th biennial convention here. Ghorbal accepted a posthumous award from the UAHC to the late Egyptian Presdent, Anwar Sadat, for “services to the world community.”

Ghorbal called Sadat a “leader of great vision” and said Sadat’s successor, President Hosni Mubarak, is a “man in Sadat’s image” who is committed to strengthening relations with Israel while at the same time fulfilling the commitments of the Camp David agreements.

LEWIS: THREAT OF MIDEAST WAR HAS RECEDED

Meanwhile, Samuel Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, making a rare appearance before an American Jewish audience, told the UAHC convention that the “threat of war in the Middle East has receded” and that “the U.S. and Israel now enjoy an open, defacto relationship as symbolized by the signing of the memorandum of understanding” last week by U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

Lewis added that Israel was “more powerful than any time in her history thanks to the help of the United States.” He said the Camp David process was the “only agreed upon solution to the problem of the Palestinians.”

While acknowledging past differences because of “differing roles, responsibilities, assessments and expectations, “Lewis said, “There has been no erosion in the deep historic, bipartisan American commitment to Israel’s security and permanence.”

Also addressing the UAHC, the central body of Reform Judaism in the U.S., was Ephraim Evron,

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States. In one of his final appearances before retiring as the Israeli envoy, Evron said U.S. -Israel relations were even closer today than they were three years ago, when he assumed his post. He predicted that “this closeness will continue.”

Citing Israel’s growth and development, Evron said Israel’s security and the chances of peace depend on four fundamental considerations: the strength of Israel’s defense forces; Israel’s economic viability and social cohesion; the commitment of world Jewry to Israel’s security; and the special and unique relationship between Israel and the U.S.

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