JERUSALEM (Mar. 3)
President Hosni Mubarak is seeking a quick end to the row that has erupted between himself and Premier Menachem Begin over his visit to Israel that had been scheduled for later this month. This was the impression of Begin’s former press adviser, Dan Pattir, who met with Mubarak for 90 minutes in Cairo Monday.
Pattir, now on a fellowship to a Washington academic institute, met with Mubarak in connection with his research into aspects of the Israel-Egypt peace negotiations.
Speaking on Israel Radio this morning, Pattir said he would convey a message from Mubarak privately to the Israeli leadership and could not divulge its contents. But he was able to reveal that Mubarak was much perturbed by the fact that the discord over the visit had become a public wrangle, and definitely hoped it could be “resolved.” Pattir’s impression was that the visit itself was still open.
It is presently off because Mubarak has refused to visit Jerusalem and Begin has replied that in that case he would prefer it if the Egyptian leader did not come to Israel at all.
RECALLS SADAT’S VISIT TO JERUSALEM
In a speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors here Monday night, Begin recalled that President Anwar Sadat did not hesitate to come to Jerusalem in 1977.
Egyptian sources countered today that Sadat, subsequent to that historic and dramatic first visit, also refused to visit the Holy City and his later meetings with Begin on Israeli soil were at Beersheba, Haifa and Ophira (Sharm el-Sheikh).
Begin, in his speech, added that had Sadat lived, Israel and Egypt would have been making greater progress towards an agreement on Palestinian autonomy.
A round of those talks, on the technical level, is under way currently in Cairo, but reports from there today said that little progress was being made.
Pattir said Mubarak was closely following the internal Israeli drama over the evacuation of eastern Sinai and was greatly appreciative of the government’s solid determination to stick to its treaty commitments in the face of domestic political opposition from the diehards.
MUBARAK CITES GOAL AFTER APRIL 26
Egypt for its part will take care to “lower the profile” of celebrations marking the return of Sinai on April 26, Mubarak informed Pattir.
The Egyptian President stressed repeatedly during the conversation that the withdrawal date would not mark a watershed in the relationship between the two countries or a turning point in their peace process.
He urged Pattir and the Israeli people not to think of it in that light but to look ahead with confidence beyond April without suspicion or trepidation. Mubarak emphasized — as he has repeatedly done in recent months — that his desire to mend Egypt’s fences with the Arab world would not be undertaken at the expense of its peace treaty with Israel.