Premier Yitzhak Rabin confirmed last night that efforts were made during the past year to arrange a meeting between top level Jewish leaders and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. But he denied vigorously a report in Maariv yesterday that the Israeli government had thwarted a meeting between senior American-Jewish leaders and Sadat that had been arranged by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria.
Rabin spoke of the matter at a dinner of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League at the Jerusalem Hilton Hotel. He stressed, repeating three times, that his government knew of plans for such a meeting and raised no objections. But the meeting never took place because of hedging by Sadat, Rabin said. He said he first learned of it from Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, who told him about a year ago that Sadat would agree to meet a delegation of world Jewish leaders. According to Rabin, Goldmann was informed of Sadat’s interest in such a meeting by Rumanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.
Rabin said he told Goldmann that the matter was one for the WJC Governing Board to decide and that he would not object if the WJC decided to send a delegation to meet Sadat. The Premier stated that about six months later Goldmann told him that he had learned from Chancellor Kreisky that Sadat would not meet with a delegation headed by Goldmann because the WJC president is a prominent Zionist leader.
Rabin said he told Goldmann once again that he would not object if the WJC decided to send a delegation to Egypt headed by someone else. Three months later, Goldmann informed Rabin that Sadat refused to meet publicly with any delegation of Jewish leaders, Rabin said. According to Goldmann, the Egyptian leader would only meet privately with such a group provided it was not an official delegation. Again, Rabin said, he raised no objections and assured Goldmann that Israel would place no obstacles in the path of a meeting between Sadat and any American-Jewish leader.
According to the Maariv story, Sadat consented twice in recent months to meet with senior American-Jewish leaders. The paper quoted American-Jewish sources as saying that Chancellor Kreisky had obtained Israel’s agreement to the meeting but Israel subsequently reversed itself and by opposing the meeting jeopardized it.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.