144. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

18646. Subj: Arab-Israeli Aspects of Sadat Nov 9 Speech.

Summary: in dramatic and emotional ending to People’s Assembly speech, Sadat extensively praised Pres Carter’s peace efforts, emphasized importance of Geneva being held and his determination to “go to the Knesset itself” to insist on withdrawal from occupied territories and recognition of legitimate rights of Palestinians. Neither Israel nor any other power nor wrangling over procedural matters would be able to stop him. Sadat also announced agreement to visit Asad in near future and sending of VP Mubarak to mediate Algerian Moroccan dispute.2 Sadat considers Arab summit meeting premature. End summary

1. During course of 2 hour and 20 minute speech Nov 9 inaugurating new session of PA (almost all of which read from prepared text and all but 50 minutes devoted to domestic affairs), Sadat’s most dramatic announcements were given in series of extemporaneous insertions.

2. Sadat extensively praised Pres Carter for giving “top priority” and devoting “great efforts” to peace process. Carter had for first time placed problem of Palestinians before American people in its human and political dimension, including right to self-determination and setting up a state on their own soil. Similarly joint USUSSR statement demonstrated unanimity of view of superpower “although recent history has shown no superpower can dictate its will to anybody”. “Statement is positive” and helps open way to Geneva.

3. Sadat said as result of 1973 War, Arabs had succeeded in exporting to Israel frustrations that Arabs had experienced and it is these Israeli frustrations which explain “hysterical way” in which Israel has treated US working paper. In fact his working group proposal that Israel had rejected was nothing more than a proposal put to Sec Vance last Aug. He emphasized that Geneva must be held and Palestinian reps must be chosen in a free way with which Israel has nothing to do.

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4. Egypt is not concerned with procedural aspects, but wants to go to Geneva to negotiate the crux of the problem regardless of procedures. In forceful, emotional terms, Sadat said he is going to Geneva to insist on the withdrawal from occupied territories and recognition of the legitimate rights of Palestinians and neither Israel nor any other power will be able to stop him. Israel is only trying to make Arabs frustrated and hysterical by procedural wrangling so Arabs will say they won’t go to Geneva. Sadat said he was prepared before the Assembly, before the Arab world and all of the world to say “I am ready to go to the Knesset itself to debate with them” (this comment drew strong approval from Assembly).

5. Arab coordination. After emphasizing importance of Arab solidarity from prepared text, Sadat earlier in speech departed from text to say that during trip he had worked hard for coordination with Saudis and was very pleased to have Arafat in attendance tonight (sitting between VP Mubarak and PM Salim) as Chairman of PLO, the “only legal rep of Palestinians”. Sadat revealed that shortly before session, he had spoken with Pres Asad on the phone and agreed to visit Asad in Damascus after “tending to some pressing issues at home”. Sadat expressed sadness over today’s news of tension between Algiers and Morocco and announced VP Mubarak would depart tomorrow in attempt to mediate that dispute.

6. Arab summit. Sadat left little doubt that in his mind an Arab summit was “premature”. Arab strategy decided upon at Rabat summit that there would be no bargaining over Palestinian rights and that PLO was sole legitimate rep of Palestinians was still valid. Since “we are on verge of going to Geneva” there was no need for summit to determine new strategy. However, Egypt remains committed to concept of solidarity and if others wanted it, Egypt would be in the forefront as always.

4. Further details and comment by septel.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770426–0780. Unclassified; Immediate. Sent immediate for information to Algiers, Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Rabat, Jidda, Moscow, and London. Sent for information to Paris.
  2. Beginning in 1976, Algeria provided bases and military support for the Polisario, a military group that sought control of the former Spanish Western Sahara, under the control at that point of Morocco. Accordingly, Algeria and Morocco experienced increased tensions during the late 1970s.