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Begin, Burg Reject Sadat’s Proposal for the Creation of a Palestinian Government-in-exile

February 17, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Menachem Begin and Interior Minister Yosef Burg, Israel’s chief autonomy negotiator, today flatly rejected a proposal by President Anwar Sadat for the creation of a Palestinian government-in-exile Begin claimed it would lead to a Soviet-dominated Palestinian state and Burg called the proposal “an absolute contrast and contradiction” to the Camp David agreements.

Sadat made the suggestion in Cairo last night after a meeting with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria who was in Egypt over the weekend on the first leg of a Middle East tour that does not include Israel.

Kreisky said before leaving Vienna that he would not go to Israel because he did not want to interfere in the election campaign there. On leaving Egypt he will visit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. He was invited to Iraq but did not accept, Austrian sources said.

Kreisky’s trip is viewed as the opening gun in a new Middle East initiative by the Austrian leader who has undertaken such missions in the past. In a recent television interview he said that several countries and even some groups in Israel had asked him to use his contacts to improve the political climate in the Middle East.


The reactions of Begin and Burg to Sadat’s proposal came as Israel’s autonomy negotiating team met here this morning to consider how the stalled talks might be resumed. Begin said Sadat had made the same proposal in the past and that Israel turned it down because it would mean a Palestinian state in the making. According to Begin, Sadat’s idea would also be opposed by the Reagan Administration because “A Palestinian government would be run by the Palestine Liberation Organization which works hand-in-hand with Moscow.”

Burg noted that “In Camp David we talked about autonomy by a self-governing authority for the Arab inhabitants of Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza District. This should apply for the next five years. Talks about the final status of the West Bank should start only after three years of autonomy. If someone wants to talk today about the constitution of an exile government, it is an absolute contrast and contradiction to the agreement.”

Burg reiterated that the Camp David signatories obligated themselves to conduct the autonomy negotiations continuously and “in good faith.” Asked about reports that Sadat wanted to freeze the talks until after Israel’s elections next June 30, Burg said that, too, was a contradiction of Camp David. He said Israel might send a formal protest to Cairo over Sadat’s government-in-exile proposal.

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