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Sadat Claims Carter Supports His Position on Jerusalem’s Future Status

November 22, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Anwar Sadat of Egypt claimed last night that President Carter supports his position with respect to the future status of Jerusalem. But he acknowledged that the President does “not yet” support his demands for absolute linkage between a peace treaty with Israel and autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In a French television interview, pre-recorded in Cairo and broadcast here, Sadat said “I received a letter from President Carter. I thought this letter satisfactory. It says that all the changes (made by Israel) in the Old City (of Jerusalem) are illegal. I think the same.” Sadat said Jerusalem is one of the major issues that remain to be settled in the Middle East peace process but promised that “we will not turn it into a stumbling block.”

Throughout the lengthy interview, the Egyptian leader stressed the overriding importance of linkage, without which, he said, he would not sign a treaty with Israel. “This must be clear. No separate agreement with Israel. If Gaza and the West Bank are not dealt with in a global agreement, no one should count on us to conclude peace,” Sadat said. In reply to a question, he said that if Israel turns down the Egyptian demand “they (Israelis) will have to bear the responsibility.”

Asked if President Carter supports his stand, Sadat replied, obviously embarrassed, “No, not yet. I sent my Vice President (Hosni) Mubarak to explain our position and the President telephoned me. When he spoke to me two days ago he sounded very perplexed.”

With respect to Jerusalem, Sadat said “We want to show our good will. The city must not be divided once again. I think that the Wailing Wall could be administered by them (the Israelis) but the Old City of Jerusalem with the Moslem and Christian holy sites must be under Arab sovereignty and under the rule of the Moslem world as these sites are fundamental for 700 million Moslems throughout the world.” He repeated that “Jerusalem will, however, not be divided again. We are going to propose that the city be run by a municipal council on which an equal number of Arabs and Israelis will sit.”

Sadat predicted that Israel’s fears for its security would dissipate once a peace treaty is concluded and they would eventually come to accept a Palestinian state. “In one year’s time after peace is signed, the Israelis will have changed,” he said. “At that time it will be easy. History does not go backwards. The Palestinians will then have their independence, their entity and be free. One year after the signature of the peace treaty and autonomy, the Israelis will feel safe enough to accept the creation of a Palestinian state,” he said.

He repeated his earlier assertions that 90 percent of the ground toward a peace treaty had been covered though he conceded that the remaining 10 percent “is of the utmost importance.” But he was optimistic that a treaty could still be signed this month or in December at the latest.

He said he has already invited Carter and Pope John Paul II to the ceremonies which, Sadat said, should take place at Mr. Sinai where he wants to build a mosque and a synagogue to commemorate the occasion. After the treaty is signed, “no one can even imagine what will be the limits of Israeli-Egyptian cooperation,” he said.

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