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Begin-sadat Meeting to Avoid ‘misunderstanding’ over Lebanon Crisis, Aide Says

June 4, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The main purpose of tomorrow’s summit meeting between Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat is to “avoid any risk of misunderstanding” between Israel and Egypt if Israel decides on any military or political action over the Lebanon missile crisis. This was stated here today by Begin’s spokesman Uri Porat in a pre-summit briefing to newsmen.

Porat said both countries want above all to protect their peace treaty and to ensure that it is not undermined or jeopardized by developments that might evolve out of the missile crisis.

“There is no doubt,” he said, “that the Lebanon crisis will be the central issue” of the summit. “This was the cause of the urgency” in the two leaders arranging to meet at this time. Porat referred to an exchange of letters between the two men two weeks ago and to a subsequent phone call from Begin to Sadat in which the summit was set up. “They agreed on the need to coordinate certain points … to avoid misunderstandings or breakdowns in communications regarding scenarios that might arise in the present fluid situation in the north.”

The two leaders will meet alone tomorrow morning for a scheduled two hour talk at a hotel in Ofira (Sharm El-Sheikh) at the southern tip of Sinai. Their entourage of ministers and aides will then join them for lunch, and there will be a further private session if the two leaders consider it necessary.

An Israeli aide seemed to expect that Sadat will agree to receive a delegation of Ofira residents but added that there has been no official word yet from Cairo on the residents’ request for a meeting, which the Israel government had relayed. The residents intend to ask Sadat to allow those of them who wish to do so to stay on at Ofira under Egyptian rule, following Israel’s pullback next April. The Israel government has made it clear that it does not endorse the request and would not, there fore, regard it as a gesture to Israel if Sadat agreed to grant it. But, an Israeli aide said, “It would be a very nice gesture to the people of Ofira.”


The aide said he had “no doubt that Begin would raise with Sadat the Egyptian leader’s statement last weekend that the Palestinian people have an “eternal, religious” right to Jerusalem. Subsequent clarifications by Sadat to a visiting group of Knesset members that he was not advocating the physical repartition of the city have apparently not put Begin’s mind to rest. The aide said that while the content of Sadat’s Jerusalem declaration had not broken new ground, its timing was seen as significant in that it “casts a shadow” over the “friendly nature of the summit meeting.”

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