Joint Begin-Sadat Press Conference
and Text of Agreed Communique
(November 21, 1977)
At the conclusion of the Sadat
visit, a joint press conference given by Prime Minister Begin
and President Sadat was held in Jerusalem.
At the beginning of the conference, Mr. Begin read the agreed communique
in which Israel and Egypt
agreed to pursue the Sadat visit through a dialogue, leading to the
signing of peace treaties in Geneva. President Sadat explained the reasons
why Mr. Begin could not come to Cairo, but that the initiative he embarked
on would be pursued. Mr. Begin said that he and Mr. Sadat agreed on
the main principle of - no more war, no more bloodshed. Text of the
communique and press conference:
Prime Minister Begin: With the permission of the President,
our noble guest, I will read to you, ladies and gentlemen, the text
of the agreed communique issued at the conclusion of the visit to our
country of President Sadat:
"In response to the sincere and courageous move
by President Sadat, and believing in the need to continue the dialogue
along the lines proposed by both sides during their exchanges and the
presentation of their positions in the historic meeting in Jerusalem,
and in order to enhance the prospect of a fruitful consummation of this
significant visit, the Government of Israel, expressing the will of
the people of Israel, proposes that this hopeful step be further pursued
through dialogue between the two countries concerned, thereby paving
the way towards successful negotiations, leading to the signing of peace
treaties in Geneva with all the neighbouring Arab states."
Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentlemen.
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, have you received an invitation
to go to Cairo and, if so, when will you go?
Mr. Begin: We discussed this issue, with complete
candour. I think that President Sadat would like to reciprocate. I would
like to see Cairo, but I do understand the reasons why, at this stage,
such an invitation was not issued. I would like to say, I do hope to
visit Cairo, Mr. President.
Q. In addition to agreeing, in principle, that the
dialogue between the two countries will continue, did the two of you,
during the course of President Sadat's visit, work out specific, practical
details for the continuation of this dialogue, even before the Geneva
Mr. Sadat: Well, for sure, we had a big survey of
all the problems that we are facing. We gave great importance to the
convening of the Geneva Conference, but not more than this, the time
was so short.
Q. I would also like Prime Minister Begin to respond
to that question. How do you continue a dialogue without an Israeli
Ambassador in Cairo and an Egyptian Ambassador in Jerusalem? How will
you do it, practically?
Mr. Begin: The establishment of diplomatic relations
usually goes together with the signing of peace treaties. In fact, sometimes
the establishment of diplomatic relations does precede the signing of
a peace treaty, as was the case between the Soviet Union and Japan,
when, in Moscow, in October 1956, they signed a peace declaration which,
though not a peace treaty, included the establishment of diplomatic
relations. But, in our case, I suppose it will be logical to have diplomatic
relations established as an integral part of the peace treaty which,
in God's good time, we hope to sign.
Q. Mr. President, why aren't you inviting the Prime
Minister of Israel to visit Cairo at this stage?
Mr. Sadat: Well, after I was invited here by the Prime
Minister, and after I addressed the Knesset and the Israeli People through
the Knesset, the Prime Minister has the full right to come and address
our Parliament in Cairo. For certain reasons that we discussed together,
we have found that we should postpone this issue for the future.
Mr. Begin: Mr. Kital, you heard from the President
that I have a right, and we have only postponed the exercise of this
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, in view of the political and
physical risks that the President of Egypt took by coming to Israel,
do you feel that you have gone far enough in giving him something that
he can take back home?
Mr. Begin: We appreciate very much the courage of
the President, in his decision to come from Cairo to Jerusalem. We did
our best to make his stay enjoyable. I think he enjoyed his stay, and
we had a frank discussion, both in public, from the rostrum of the Knesset,
our Parliament, and in private. It is not a matter of a kind of compensation.
What we wanted to achieve during this visit was to make sure that we
started a serious direct dialogue about the ways to establish peace
in the Middle East - not only between Egypt and Israel, but also between
Israel and all the other neighbouring countries. I think we can say
that we made progress on this issue, and the key word is "continuation".
We agreed that we are going to continue our dialogue and, ultimately,
out of it will come peace.
Q. Mr. President, my name is Abie Nathan. I am from
The Voice of Peace - the peace ship that sailed into the Suez Canal,
thanks to your permission, early this year. My question to you, sir,
is: How did you get the idea, and who were the leaders around the world
who encouraged you to take this bold initiative for peace, to help to
bring our peoples together? And, when can I hope to come with an Israeli
football team to Cairo to play against the Cairo eleven?
Mr. Sadat: Well, for the first part of the question
- about this initiative and if I have already discussed it with any
other leader - my answer is this: It started before I began my last
trip to Romania, Iran and Saudi Arabia. I didn't discuss it with anyone
except my Foreign Minister and, for sure, our Security Council in Egypt.
The whole situation needed action, the peace process needed momentum
again, and these are the motives behind this initiative.
Q. A common key question to President Sadat and Prime
Minister Begin: After so many conversations, did you really reach an
agreement on the meaning of the word "security" concerning
Israel and the neighbouring countries? The second question is directed
to President Sadat: Arab hospitality is very well known all over the
world. Did you feel a little bit embarrassed about the fact that you
had to postpone the invitation of Mr. Begin to Cairo?
Mr. Begin: I am not embarrassed.
Mr. Sadat: Well, the first question about security
- with the Premier and with the various parties in the Knesset today,
we agreed upon the principle. Upon security we agree. But, on the meaning
of security, we differ. I think that, through Geneva, we can reach an
agreement, and let us hope that what I have said already today in the
Knesset -let us hope that the two slogans that I want everyone to say
are: "Let us have no war after October" and "Let us agree
upon security." I think those are the main issues.
For the second question, on hospitality - very sly
- either I am an Arab and hospitable or not. No, as I said before, we
have discussed this, Premier Begin and myself, and we have agreed together
to postpone it for the time being.
Mr. Begin: I would like to add one remark. I would
say to the questioner and all of you, ladies and Gentlemen, that, during
the visit of President Sadat to our country and to Jerusalem, a momentous
agreement has been achieved, already, namely: No more war, no more bloodshed,
no more attacks, and collaboration in order to avoid any event which
might lead to such tragic developments. When I addressed the Egyptian
people directly, I said: Let us give a silent oath, one to another:
No more war, no more bloodshed, no more threats. May I say that that
mutual pledge was given in Jerusalem, and we are very grateful to President
Sadat that he said so from the rostrum of the Knesset, personally to
me, and today also to my colleagues in Parliament, both the supporters
and the opponents of the government. It is a great moral achievement
for our nations, for the Middle East and, indeed, for the whole world.
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, according to the joint communique,
it is understood that the dialogue is going to be resumed. How is it
going to be resumed, where, and will there be any place for the Palestinians
to participate in this dialogue, now or later on in the Geneva Conference?
Mr. Begin: In the Geneva Conference the proper representation
of Palestinian Arabs will take place. We agree on it. As far as the
places in which the dialogue will continue, believe me, President Sadat
and I know some geography.
Q. Mr. President, as you prepare to leave Israel,
do you have a message for the people of Israel, with whom you are, after
all, still at war?
Mr. Sadat: If I may say anything through you to the
people of Israel, I must say this: That I am really deeply grateful
for the very warm welcome and the marvelous sentiments that they have
shown to me.
Q. Mr. President, I am Shmuel Segev from Ma'ariv.
The Israeli government has allowed many Egyptian journalists to come
and cover your visit. Will you now be prepared to open the doors of
Egypt for Israeli journalists?
Mr. Sadat: When Mr. Begin visits us, for sure you
will be coming.
Q. Not before?
Mr. Begin: Mr. Segev, "L'Hitra'ot Be'Kahir"
("See you in Cairo.")
Q. I have two questions. First, after all your talks,
are you now both convinced of the sincerity of the desire of each of
you? The second question: Did you fix a date for the reconvening of
the Geneva Conference?
Mr. Sadat: For the first question - yes. For the second
question, we shall be working in the very near future for the convening
of the Geneva Conference.
Mr. Begin: For the first question - yes, and we shall
together work for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference.
Q. Mr. President, what psychological and what substantive
progress have you made in Israel on your visit?
Mr. Sadat: Well, maybe you have heard me say before,
that one of the main motives behind this visit to Israel was to give
the peace process new momentum and to get rid of the psychological barrier
that, in my opinion, was more than 70 percent of the whole conflict,
the other 30 percent being substance. For the substance, as I told you,
we have made a very big survey, but the time is too short to have progress
in this way.
Mr. Begin: The time was so short that I think that,
before I go to Cairo, I will have to invite President Sadat to Jerusalem
for a second time.
Q. I have two questions for President Sadat. The first:
After your meeting with the delegation of the Armed Services Committee
of the US House of Representatives, you were quoted as saying: "The
Soviet Union will for sure make difficulties for me and I am making
my calculations so that this attitude should not create any obstacles
at Geneva." Mr. President, was the Soviet Union, in the circumstances,
blocking the road to Geneva?
Mr. Sadat: You must have heard of the communique that
was issued by the Soviet Union and the United States for the convening
of the Geneva Conference. What I told the committee you mentioned is
this: That my relations with the Soviets are strained and it appears
that whatever I do doesn't go to their liking at all. For instance,
the visit here also, in their comments, doesn't go to their liking at
all. I fear that the same attitude could be adopted in Geneva, and they
are one of the co-sponsors. But, in the same answer, I said that, whenever
the parties concerned reach an agreement, no-one, neither a big power
nor a small power, can prevent us from fulfilling it, as much as we
have agreed upon it.
Q. Egypt agreed to a joint venture with the black-listed
US Ford Motor Company. Mr. Mohammed Mabruk, head of the Arab Boycott
of Israel, attacked the Government of Egypt. Don't you think, Mr. President,
that the time has come to put an end to the boycott?
Mr. Sadat: Well, I have an idea on this. I consider
all these to be side issues. Let us try to solve the main issue, then
all the side issues, automatically, will be solved.
Q. Mr. President, I thought it was significant that
you went out of your way this morning to congratulate Mr. Peres on his
speech. You called it constructive. Could you tell us what, precisely,
in Mr. Peres' speech you found constructive?
Mr. Sadat: I said that, and said it in spite of the
fact that we differ on several issues; don't forget that. I said: "...in
spite of the fact that we differ on several issues," but his speech
was still constructive.
Q. You repeated several times in the Knesset this
morning that, whatever happens again between Egypt and Israel, the solutions
must be sought not through war. Does this repeated statement cancel
your previous repeated statements in Egypt that, if you cannot get back
the territories by diplomatic means, you will get them back by force
Mr Sadat: For sure, I must tell you quite frankly
that I am issuing this after I made my visit here and at the same time
when we are preparing for Geneva. Well, after we had this new momentum
and this new spirit, let us agree that, whatever happens between us,
we should solve it together through talks rather than going to war.
Because, as I told you, really, I was very deeply touched when I saw
the children, the Israeli children, hailing me here; the Israeli women.
Really, I was very touched, and the same thing happens in Egypt also.
Maybe you know that my people now are 100 percent behind me. They don't
want any war. They want that we settle our differences on the table.
But, mark this. I also said in the Knesset, and on this I differed with
Premier Begin - he considered this as a condition - I said that the
issue of the withdrawal from the occupied territories should not even
be put on the table, except for the details of it, not as a principle.
We differ on this. But when I made my statement, this is behind it.
I mean this will be automatically, in Geneva, negotiated and decided.
Q. Mr. President, have you discussed today with the
West Bank personalities the political future of the West Bank, and do
you think they should participate in Geneva? When are you going to visit
Mr. Sadat: Well, for the first question, I received
them. They were very kind to come and apologize for those who are abusing
me in the outside world, from their patriots. I was very happy and elated
when I prayed yesterday in Al Aqsa, and I met with our Arab citizens.
I was very happy and elated regarding their representation. I should
not say anything about this because the Palestinians should decide this
About the visit to Saudi Arabia - whenever there is
any issue, there are very close contacts together, and whenever there
is any need to discuss anything, I may go at any time, or King Khalid
may come to Cairo at any time. We do not have protocols and so on between
Q. Mr. President, now that you are more acquainted
with the facts of the Nazi Holocaust, do you have a better insight into
Israel's determination to maintain appropriate security positions against
the extremist elements that are openly committed to the destruction
of the Jewish state?
Mr. Sadat: Could you repeat the question?
Q. As above.
Mr. Sadat: As you have heard me say just now, security
is one of the two main issues or two main slogans that should be raised
now. I quite agree. I quite understand the point of view of security
for the Israelis but, on the other hand, it shouldn't be through any
compromise on land, because that would mean expansion. And, in my opinion,
we shall discuss this thoroughly afterwards. A few kilometres here,
or a few kilometres there, will not provide security. The intention
is what provides security.
Q. Mr. President, you have faced very strong attacks
from much of the rest of the Arab world for your visit here. You've
even been faced with the threat of assassination for what you have done.
What do you say to these people?
Mr. Sadat: I shall not be saying anything to those
people. I think I shall be telling my people in Egypt what has happened
here. I shall be giving a speech before the Parliament a few days after
my arrival. I need not answer all those who have attacked me. Let me
remind you that, after the disengagement agreement, for one continual
year I was much more vehemently attacked than I am now.
Q. I have a question for both Prime Minister Begin
and for President Sadat, and the premise is the same for both questions.
Since there are 23 other Arab countries, with millions and millions
of miles and plenty of money, and since Israel's territory is so small,
by comparison, and since, as President Sadat just said, some of this
land was not acquired by what he termed expansion, but was actually
acquired by defensive war, after it was started, does Premier Begin
believe that any of this land should be given up, in view of the biblical
injunction not to surrender one inch of land acquired with the help
And my question to President Sadat, would a larger
demilitarised Sinai with joint development of the oil resources or the
other resources of the area and with economic development and cooperation
required to help his battered economy - wouldn't this and tourism be
better for Egypt and for Israel than giving any of the land; or is vanity
to win territory more important?
Mr. Sadat: Two words only for my answer - our land
Mr. Begin: My friend, if you asked me a question about
Q. No, the question was about territory, not about
Mr. Begin: Will you please allow me to reply?
Mr. Begin: Thank you for your permission. I will explain
now what security is to us: The lives of every man, woman and child.
This is what national security means to us. We have long experience:
In one generation we lost a third of our people and, in this country,
11 times we had to defend ourselves against repeated attempts to destroy
us. With such an experience we will care for our people, for our women
and children, as I said yesterday in Parliament. I think that we have
almost a complete national consensus - with the exception of one party,
the Communist Party, which is completely subservient to Moscow. This
is the consensus by the overwhelming majority of our Parliament, whether
in coalition or in opposition, and this is going to be our attitude
during negotiations. Of course, I can respect a statement as was made
just now by President Sadat: "Our land is sacred," and, because
I respect it, I can say now: "Our land is sacred."
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, do you note a certain lack
of symmetry in the fact that President Sadat is crossing a political
canal and exposing himself to risks vis-a-vis his own people, while
you stayed within the relative safety of Israeli official concept? In
other words, while President Sadat came to Jerusalem and addressed himself
to us, you came to Jerusalem and addressed yourself to us. Is this symmetry?
Mr. Begin: As I told you, my friend, I am ready to
go to Cairo any day. And then, if to accept your statement, I will take
that risk. So, if taking risks is a problem, both of us, I suppose,
are prepared to take risks.
Q. Yesterday, in his speech, President Sadat spoke
about the Palestinian problem being the crux of the Mid-East conflict.
Israel, in his view, would have nothing to fear if a new state were
established. No peace can be established without solving the problem.
I should like to ask the Prime Minister, why did you not relate by so
much as a word to what Mr. Sadat had to say?
Mr. Begin: I did, but I spoke in Hebrew. And I must
correct you as I do always. Palestine is the name of a country, and
in this country there are two nationalities. There are Palestinian Jews
and Palestinian Arabs. When you say Palestinians, you do not explain
the problem at issue. We do recognize the Arab nationality in our country,
and therefore I always say: "Please, the question of the Palestinian
Arabs." And in Hebrew I say "Haba'ayah shel Araviyei Eretz-Yisrael,"
because in Hebrew, the name of this country is Eretz-Yisrael. Since
the book of Samuel, and President Sadat knows the Bible perfectly well,
no less than the Koran - so he knows the book of Samuel as well - where
it is written for the first time: "And no locksmith shall be found
throughout Eretz-Yisrael." The translation of Eretz-Yisrael is
Palestine. I spoke about the Arabs of Eretz-Yisrael, or, in other words,
about Palestinian Arabs. It is an issue, and we have proposals to solve
Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans to meet with
President Assad and persuade him maybe to join you?
Mr. Sadat: From time to time we do meet in the Arab
world. I was asked in Damascus, before I came here, whether President
Assad tried to put pressure on me not to complete this visit. I told
them that no-one put pressure on the other. This is our way.
Q. The fact that you have come on this visit, is it
really a breakthrough towards peace?
Mr. Sadat: We have always been speaking about and,
indeed, the most important thing today is that we should go to Geneva.
And that is what we have been talking about - going to Geneva.
Q. I come from Australia, which last week was a much
shorter visit than yours from Cairo. May I ask you, since you have been
here in the last 24 hours, do you feel closer to reconciling the just
rights and needs of the Israeli people and the just rights and needs
of the Palestinians?
Mr. Sadat: I am sure that the progress that we started
through my visit here will enable us to solve all the problems.
For example, we consider that there is an urgent problem
of security. I also consider that the Palestinian state is
very important. In spite of our differences upon this
issue, we can decide in Geneva on all these. If you ask me
whether I am optimistic or pessimistic, I can tell
you, I am optimistic.
Mr. Begin: Ladies and gentlemen, it will take another
two hours until President Sadat will be on his way to his country, to
Cairo. May I now sum up this momentous visit. It is indeed a momentous
visit. We are formally in a state of war, our two countries. As far
as I can remember, I do not know of a precedent that the leader of a
country that finds itself in a state of war with another country paid
such a visit to that country, and was received with so much warmth and
sincerity. The reaction was positive in the government, in Parliament,
but first and foremost, among our people.
We drove, President Sadat and 1, several times together.
We have seen our people in the streets, in the thousands -men, women
and little children - all of them greeting the President, taking him
to their hearts. The children waved both flags, the Egyptian flag and
the Israeli flag. I wish, with your permission, Mr. President, to express
the hope that the day is not too far when Egyptian children will have
the Israeli flag and the Egyptian flag. This visit is a real success
for both countries, and the cause of peace.
And, as we both believe, the President and I, in Divine
Providence, before the departure of the President and his party, we
pray to the Almighty that he give all of us the wisdom to continue in
our efforts to bring peace to our nations - real peace - and so to make
sure that this region, with all the nations dwelling here, achieves
peace, advances, and lives in liberty, in justice and in happiness.
Mr. Sadat: Well, ladies and gentlemen, may I take
this opportunity to thank Prime Minister Begin, the Israeli people and
President Katzir for the very warm welcome that was accorded to me here.
We are at a crucial moment. Let us hope, all of us, that we can keep
the momentum in Geneva. And may God guide the steps of Premier Begin
and the Knesset, because there is a great need for hard and drastic
decision. I already did my share in my decision to come here, and I
shall be really looking forward to those decisions from Premier Begin
and the Knesset.
All my best wishes to my friend Premier Begin and
his family, and all my deep gratitude to the Israeli people, whose welcome
I can never forget. Thank you.