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Sadat Expresses Confidence That the People of Israel Want Peace

July 14, 1980
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President Anwar Sadat of Egypt says he is more concerned with drawing the Arab world into the Middle East peace process than by the slow pace of the autonomy negotiations with Israel. “Despite the differences, I am confident that the people of Israel want peace,” he said at a meeting last week with the prominent Israeli Mideast historian Prof. Shimon Shamir.

One must understand the “historic pace” of the peace process. It is a process which involves a deep personal change, Sadat said, and therefore he was troubled by the lack of patience with respect to the peace process, according to a report of his talk with Shamir, published today in Yediot Achranot. He said that by means of his peace treaty with Israel, he was trying to “introduce Arab leaders to the political lexicon of the present. They are still living in the past.” He said he noted a beginning of change among the Arab peoples but not their rulers.

He praised the Israeli people as “an enlightened and cultured people” and insisted that one should see the positive side of the picture, those problems which have been solved, rather than those which still remain to be solved.” I am blamed for being optimistic without foundation. But those who understand my historic concept, understand too that I cannot but be optimistic,” Sadat was quoted as saying.


He said he had offered Israel strategic cooperation but added that this could materialize only “after a comprehensive peace is reached in the region.” He said Jerusalem could be the capital of Israel with an Israeli flag over the places holy to the Jews. “However,” he warned, “800 million Moslems will not tolerate that an Arab flag will not be raised over their holy places, and this is also of interest to the Israelis.”

The Egyptian leader explained his concept of Egypt’s strategic role in the region which, he said, transcends its own domestic problems. He said that role was to defend the area from Soviet expansionism. He observed that Ethiopia, South Yemen and Afghanistan have already fallen into Soviet hands and other regimes are in similar danger. Therefore, Sadat said, he decided to offer military facilities to the U.S. to defend not only the Mideast but the entire Moslem world as far as Indonesia.

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