Begin Announces Sadat’s Visit – NBC Nightly News

TV Features
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17 In nov 1977
Individuals - Anwar Sadat. Diaspora - Diaspora Jewry. Foreign Policy - Diplomacy. States - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Soviet Union (Russia), Syria. Peace , peace process with Egypt , Aliyah - Return to Zion. Religion and State - Shabbat and Holidays
A press conference by Prime Minister Begin on "NBC" announcing President Sadat's impending visit to Jerusalem. Begin discusses how the visit came about, when Sadat was expected to arrive, the expected itinerary of the visit and what he hoped to accomplish during and after the visit.
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President Sadat will arrive in our country Saturday night, two days from tonight.

[Pause for cheers; Begin smiles; cut to press conference]

Good to see you all. All my team is here.

Mr. Prime Minister [unclear 00:58] President Sadat's answer to your [unclear 1:00]?

I think that's a very practical question. We start now a real dialogue. I don't think that only the meeting with President Sadat in Jerusalem will take place, I believe there will be a follow-up.

[Reporter 1:19; press conference with Begin starts at 4:25, with same question as above]

Mr. Prime Minister [unclear 00:58] President Sadat's answer to your [unclear 1:00]?

I think that's a very practical question. Well, yesterday in the afternoon, through the good offices of Ambassador Lewis, I got from Vice President Mubarak a question to the effect of whether it will be acceptable to us that President Sadat should arrive on Saturday night. And we answered in the affirmative. Then the question was put to us at what time he should arrive so that it shouldn't be any desecration of Shabbat and I replied that between 7:30 and 8 o'clock will be, from our point of view, the proper time because Shabbat is out at 5:20 or 5:30, so we will have two hours to arrive at the Lida Airport from all corners of the country after Shabbat is out. But still, we waited for the formal news. Now, in the afternoon, Ambassador Lewis informed me that this is exactly now the plan. Namely, that President Sadat will arrive between 7:30 and 8 o'clock in the evening on Saturday. He will stay here two nights, so, probably, will depart for Egypt on Monday. We don't know the hour of departure. On Sunday morning, President Sadat wants to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray and, of course, all the preparations will be made for him to make it possible for him to pray at this sacred shrine of the Islamic faith. Then, we shall have talks, President Sadat, with me, and perhaps our colleagues will participate. And then, in the afternoon, we shall convene the Knesset for an extraordinary session and President Sadat will address the Knesset and then I will follow him to the rostrum. And, perhaps again, we shall have talks, or, perhaps, we shall arrange for a state dinner, if we have the time for it. All the other details will be determined tomorrow when the director of the presidential chancellery arrives in our country between 8 and 9 o'clock in the morning. A party of Egyptians will come to us. There, we shall know exactly all the details of the visit. We, ourselves, already put the, may I say, all the machine into motion. I convened a session, a special session of the cabinet tomorrow for 9 o'clock because the cabinet should be informed about everything concerning this very momentous visit. There is an interdepartmental committee that will deal with the details and, of course, there is the security problem with which our men in charge deal most seriously. I have informed the delegation of the congressional committee about these events. They came from Cairo. They were informed by President Sadat that he is willing to come to Israel, but whilst in Cairo they didn't get to know the time of his arrival. Of course, we were obliged, since yesterday, not to divulge it until it becomes official. So therefore, you remember, you asked me in the afternoon, I told you that we shall know between 5 and 6, and that is the exact time when we got all those news. I, again, want to express my gratitude to Ambassador Lewis, and also to his colleague in Cairo for all the assistance they gave the two countries to make it possible for us to come together in Jerusalem. Any questions?

Mr. Prime Minister, can you tell us what you expect or hope this meeting, this visit will accomplish?

There will be a speech of President Sadat to the Knesset, per se, this is a great event. I hope that I will be invited to Cairo, as the Egyptian ambassador in the United States already said, and I will also be enabled to address the Egyptian Parliament. Per se, such addresses are important, and then we shall have our private talks. They may be very important. I think we shall start now a real dialogue. I don't think that only the meeting with President Sadat in Jerusalem will take place, I believe there will be a follow-up. So I think we gave through this very positive initiative of President Sadat and our initiative in accepting it a real advancement of the momentum of the peacemaking process.

How will this affect the reconvening of the Geneva Peace Conference?

No contradiction whatsoever. The Geneva Conference should be reconvened. And when it is made possible by the agreement between the parties concerned, Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, we shall be very glad to meet all the representatives of the neighboring Arab countries in Geneva.

Mr. Prime Minister, how do you interpret the resignation of Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmi?

Well, Mr. Fahmi used to make very extreme declarations, inter alia, that he will ask Israel to stop immigration. I said in the Knesset, if we heard such a statement in Geneva, we wouldn't even listen to it. We would say we don't take even notice of it, it doesn't interest us. The raison d'être of the Jewish state is immigration into the state, and we will take in our brethren from the four corners of the world, at any time, from whatever place they wish to come to us. Especially, of course, we have to take in our brethren from the Soviet Union, and there are more than 3 million Jews in the Soviet Union. It only proves the very extremist views of Foreign Minister Fahmi. I assume that President Sadat didn't consult him in advance and probably he resigned because he didn't acquiesce in that move by President Sadat. But it is not our problem, it's a problem for the president of Egypt.

Mr. Begin, do you think there's the possibility that you and President Sadat will actually be able to work out a peace settlement during the trip itself?

I hope so. But, of course, the substance of our talks depends on both sides. He will be our guest, and he will be the first to start. We shall first listen to him, and then we shall answer. But even if we do not conclude a peace treaty during the talks in Jerusalem, I think it is a very good start for such talks, for such negotiations.

Will you take President Sadat to Yad Vashem?

Yes. I want to take him to Yad Vashem. I told so the Congressional delegation, and I would suggest to him, when he comes, that first he goes to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and, afterwards, when he's finished the prayer, I will personally take him to Yad Vashem.

Mr. Prime Minister, do you understand that, by coming here, President Sadat is ready to conclude a sub-settlement with Israel, between Egypt and Israel, separate from other Arab countries? Is that your understanding?

No, I can't say so. You see, my friend, since the time I invited President Sadat, there are some suspicions in the Arab world and they are being expressed, that Israel wants to drive a wedge between the Arab countries. It's not true. It never occurred to us. Of course Egypt is the largest and strongest Arab country neighboring with Israel, and we are very interested in having peace with Egypt, and friendship, too. But we want to have peace in all sectors, on all fronts, to use the routine word. Therefore, from the rostrum of the Knesset, I invited President Assad of Syria to Jerusalem, and also King Hussein and President Sarkis. I hope that in the wake of the visit by President Sadat, there will be other meetings. I may go to Damascus, if President Assad is willing to talk with me in Damascus. And, of course, we are ready to meet with King Hussein and President Sarkis.