Carter Announces Israel and Egypt Define Main Elements of Treaty
(March 14, 1979)
On his way back to Washington from Jerusalem, President Carter stopped for a brief airport meeting with President Sadat at Cairo airport. He was able to win Sadat's agreement to a series of compromises offered by Israel, among them - early Israeli withdrawal to the Interim (9 months) line, exchange of ambassadors a month after the conclusion of the withdrawal, no Egyptian presence in the Gaza Strip, no target date for the autonomy regime's establishment, U.S. guarantees to supply Israel with oil in case of emergency, no linkage and no mention of Israeli settlements in the treaty and its annexes. After another phone call to Mr. Begin, Mr. Carter announced that all the major elements (but two) have been resolved, and the main components of the peace treaty have now been defined. Text:
Thank you. I'd like to ask Secretary Vance to come up here and stand. Vice-President Mondale, Speaker O'Neill, Senator Byrd, Members of the Congress, the tremendous group of the members of the Congress, Members of my Cabinet, friends and fellow citizens, you're looking at a tired but a grateful man.
All of us who made this journey appreciate the opportunity that we have had to render some service in the cause of peace. Now the journey is done and we are glad to be home back here in our own country, our beloved United States of America.
It's good to see so many familiar and welcome faces and I want to thank you for being out here in the middle of the night to greet us and to give us one of the best welcomes I have ever known. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As you know, we did not go to Egypt and to Israel in order to confirm what was already a guaranteed result. We went there to use our influence and our good offices to help the leaders of those two great nations move decisively toward that peace that is so ardently desired by the people whom they serve.
There were risks involved - they were pointed out to me by many people - political risks to me as President, therefore perhaps a risk even to the prestige of the United States. Fortunately your work has had a happy result, but I want to stress that the effort would have been worth making regardless of the outcome of this trip. Risk of failure should never deter us from a worthy goal, and no goal is higher than that of a genuine peace. In war we offer our very lives as a matter of routine and we must be no less daring, no less steadfast in the pursuit of peace.
For more than 30 years the nations of Egypt and Israel, who have been and who will be perpetual neighbours, have existed in a continual state of hostility. That hostility has exploded into combat four times and each war has brought with it suffering and pain and the loss of life, renewed fear and hatred and great danger for that entire region and for the world far beyond. But in the last 16 months the way has finally been opened to peace. When I decided to make this trip, the peace negotiations - as you know - seemed to have reached a stalemate. After long hours of discussion in both Egypt and Israel, proposals were made for resolving all the outstanding issues.
All but two of these issues have been resolved with Prime Minister Begin and the Israeli Cabinet. In less then three hours from now, the Prime Minister will present the remaining proposals to the Israeli Cabinet for consideration. I have even left instructions to wake me up if the news is good - and I believe it will be.
As you also know, President Sadat has already accepted all of the proposals.
Therefore we have now defined the major components of a peace treaty between the largest and most powerful Arab country - Egypt - and her neighbour and former enemy - Israel. There may be sharp internal debates before this process is complete, but the treaty that emerges can be the cornerstone of a comprehensive settlement, one that can bless with peace all the peoples who have suffered from the long enduring conflict in the Middle East.
The leaders of Egypt and Israel are now daring to break the pattern of bitterness and war. They are following the advice of the Biblical proverb "When a man's ways pleaseth the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." In choosing peace, President Sadat and the Prime Minister of Israel, Prime Minister Begin, are venturing into the unknown, but they know that the United States of America will be with them as they begin to make peace a living reality for their own people.
I'm thankful that the friendships between their countries, both countries, and the United States, will now grow even stronger when our own two friends are friends with one another. Through private messages and public statements - many messages sent from Air Force One on the trip back here from Egypt - I am urging all other world leaders to support what Egypt and Israel have done, for it offers hope to all who love peace everywhere in the world.
My friends, let me thank you again for coming out to greet us. I believe that God has answered our prayers.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry