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Union Leader Says Egyptians Want to End Confrontation with Israel

January 26, 1978
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An American trade union leader who recently visited Egypt reported here last night that the Egyptian labor leaders and government officials he met have “a deep and innate longing” to “end the confrontation with Israel” but do not understand yet that the peacemaking process will be long and difficult and could succeed only if “there is a degree of mutuality” over issues “where both parties are diametrically opposed to each other.”

Sol C. Chaikin, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, made his remarks before 1800 guests attending a dinner given by the National Committee for Labor Israel at the Americana Hotel. Chaikin was presented with the 16th Histadrut Humanitarian Award by Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, president of the National Committee for Labor Israel.

Chaikin noted that until AFL-CIO president George Meany invited on Egyptian trade union representative to the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles last December, there had been very little contact by the American labor movement with Egypt because there were no free trade unions in that country. He said his visit to Egypt, accompanied by Ernest Lee, head of the AFL-CIO international affairs department, was in reciprocation for Meany’s invitation.

He said he found in Egypt “a longing for peace but they have an almost childlike understanding of the peace process…I sensed in Cairo an almost universal belief and expectation that simply because Sadat made his dramatic trip to Jerusalem with all that it implied, the Israelis should grant each and every demand enumerated by Sadat in his speech to the Knesset.” Chaikin said “Egypt could not expect a quick, dramatic conclusion after 30 years of war and distrust and calumny and invective. It would take persistence, patience and hard bargaining to reach a peaceful accommodation.”

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