PM Begin’s Speech at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

At a Speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Begin stated that the peace treaty with Egypt precedes all previous agreements between the two countries, and urged sympathy for Sadat’s hostile situation within the Arab world. Begin then emphasized the importance of the Israeli people’s support for the peace treaty, saying that it will be presented to the Knesset for approval regardless of party discipline. Later, he explained how the US government’s peace proposals to King Hussein included departures from the Camp David Accords, in matters such as the legal status of Jerusalem, the IDF presence in Judea and Samaria, the establishment of settlements and the autonomy plan. Finally, Begin noted the sacrifices Israel had made for the sake of peace, including evacuation of settlements and the waiver of the Sinai Peninsula.

PM Begin in an Interview with Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite

Begin addressed the halting of settlement construction for the duration of the Palestinian negotiations in an interview shortly after the Camp David Accords were signed, noting a difference of opinion with the US government on the matter. Begin outlined the autonomy plan’s fundamental elements and defended the morality of Judea and Samaria’s settlements, expressing a wish to end military authority in the region. Later, Begin considered the prospect of negotiating a peace treaty with Jordan and other Arab countries, saying that Egyptian-Israeli relations and the Palestinian Arabs’ solution are not interwoven.

Subsequently, Begin emphasized his desire to follow in the footsteps of Camp David and use the US government’s aid in drafting a peace pact. He proposed providing facilities for the US navy in the Mediterranean and establishing US bases in Sinai, but denied the conception of stationing US soldiers in Judea and Samaria so that Israel could defend itself independently against its surrounding enemies. However, he noted that Israel sought military assistance from the US in order to do so, acknowledging Israel’s contribution to US national security. Begin went on to discuss his Camp David experiences, his impressions of Carter as a negotiator, and the sticking points in the negotiations over the legal status of Jerusalem.

Camp David Accords

I wouldn’t like to embarrass President Sadat. We did not suggest to him a separate peace treaty with Egypt, because he has difficulties in the Arab world. What we want is a comprehensive settlement, peace settlement. We want a peace treaty with Jordan, with Syria and with Lebanon. And, therefore, the second document takes this … Continued

Signing of the Camp David Accords

And, indeed, we shall go on working, in understanding and in friendship and with good will. We will still have problems to solve. Camp David proved that any problem can be solved if there is good will and understanding and some, some wisdom.

Signing of the Camp David Accords

[President Carter] worked. As far as my historic experience is concerned, I think that he worked harder than our forefathers did in Egypt building the pyramids.