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Sadat Says the U.S. Holds 99% of the Cards in the Middle East

March 28, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Anwar Sadat of Egypt said tonight that the United States hold “99 percent of the cards” in the Middle East and indicated that he relies on President Carter to advance the peace process there by “bringing Israel to reason.” Sadat, who was interviewed on the CBS-TV “60 Minutes” program, disclosed what he would ask of Carter when they meet in Washington, April 4-5.

He said his requests would include U.S. contacts with the PLO and their participation in the Geneva peace conference and “lots” of American F-5 fighter planes, TOW anti-tank missiles and other “defensive” weapons.

Sadat said he would also ask that pressure be brought to bear on Israel by the U.S. to with-draw from all occupied Arab territories “because no Israeli leader is now capable of convincing his people that they should evacuate the land and they have no right to occupy others’ land by force.” According to Sadat, the Israelis need “an electric shock to tell them: You should behave for peace.”

The Egyptian leader said he felt he had “lots in common” with Carter. But he said he could not agree with the President’s recent suggestion that Israel have “defensible borders” and capability beyond its legal borders to ensure its security. “It is a matter of sovereignty.” Sadat said, adding that “President Carter has discussed with one party and that’s Israel. He hasn’t heard yet our point of view and our part in the whole problem.”

Carter met with Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin earlier this month. His meeting with Sadat will be the first in a series of meeting with key Arab leaders during April and May.


Sadat insisted that the Palestinian question is the core of the Middle East problem and urged the U.S. to sit down with the PLO and that it be allowed to attend the Geneva conference. Asked if he would try to persuade the PLO to recognize Israel — one of the conditions set by the U.S. for dealings with it — Sadat replied:

“How am I going to ask the Palestinians when nobody recognizes them. I mean the party that has got 99 percent of the cards of this game in his hands. This is you (Americans). This should be recognized by you. To sit with them (the PLO) and then discuss with them the whole thing. If they prove to be fanatics or extremists and so, you can declare it. And for that I am asking for them to join with us in Geneva because I want the whole world to hear their say.”

Sadat said he would not object if the U.S. offered Israel “a defense pact” to guarantee a peace settlement. “If you give whatever guarantees you give to Israel, I shall not oppose it at all. Any other guarantees that Israel asks from others I shall not oppose. I shall be asking these same guarantees, except the defense pact,” he said.


Sadat made similar remarks in an interview appearing in the current issue of Business Week magazine. He said he expected the U.S. to provide Egypt with F-5 planes and TOW missiles because “I am your friend now and you have a moral obligation to help me.”

He warned, however, that “My people will blame the United States, not Israel” if the Geneva conference does not take place this year or fails. He said “My people know Israel does not want peace. It has been proven since we started the peace process together. They fear peace. My people will not blame me because I have done my best. They will blame the U.S. because it did not exert sufficient effort to reach a settlement while it could.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Esmat Abdel Meguid delivered a strong attack on Israel when the Security Council interrupted a debate on South Africa Friday to consider the Middle East. The interjection of that issue was at Egypt’s request. Meguid called for speedy resumption of the Geneva conference with the participation of the PLO. He accused Israel of maneuvering to prevent peace and to sweep aside the Palestinian problem which he said was the core of the conflict.

Meguid also charged Israel with a “deliberate and reckless policy” in the occupied territories that can “lead to only one conclusion, that Israel has no intention of reaching a peace settlement”. He claimed there was close military cooperation between Israel and South Africa and declared that “Egypt considers any help given to Israel from any source or country to establish settlements or to exploit and plunder the natural resources of the occupied territories such as drilling for oil in Sinai as a hostile act against Egypt.”

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