Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Begin Says Assad’s Rejection of Proximity Talks Proves Arabs Not Willing to Sign Peace Treaties

August 15, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Menachem Begin declared last night that the rejection by Syrian President Hafez Assad of the idea of “proximity” talks in New York between Israeli, Arab and American foreign ministers belies the Arabs’ reported willingness to sign peace treaties with Israel. The idea was proposed in Alexandria two weeks ago to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat but was later with-drawn by Sadat when Assad flatly rejected it.

Begin, speaking at a meeting here of the Italian branch of Herut Hatzoar, the world organization of the Herut movement, added that Assad’s opposition made all declarations by Arab leaders of their willingness to make peace with Israel unfounded. Assad told reporters in Damascus last Friday, “There will be no direct or indirect meetings between Arab foreign ministers and Israeli officials. To be more specific, there will not be any such contacts between the Syrian foreign minister and Israeli officials.”

Begin reiterated that Vance had told him, in their meetings during Vance’s two-day stay in Israel, that it was up to the parties to the Geneva conference, of which Israel is one, to decide whether the Palestinian Liberation Organization should participate in a renewed Geneva conference. Begin insisted that Vance had not demanded that Israel should agree to PLO participation and that if Vance had made such a request, “we would have replied with a firm, no.”

Begin also assailed Arab unwillingness to meet with the Israelis and asked how they could sign any peace treaties without such meetings. He said, “we have never heard of anyone signing a peace treaty by proxy” and added that at issue was a test of Arab sincerity “and we shall put them to it in front of the entire world.”

Recommended from JTA