The Arab World at the Crossroads: The Opposition to Sadat Initiative

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VOL. 7

1977/78

No. 2
P. 26
Articles
The Arab World at the Crossroads: The Opposition to Sadat Initiative
FULL TEXT

 

The visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem between November 19 and 21, 1977, marked a turning point in the history of the Arab- Israeli conflict. For half a century since the meeting between the Emir Faisal, son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, and the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in June, 1918, no Arab leader had publicly met with any Zionist or Israeli official. Here, now, was the president of the largest Arab country visiting Israel without any preconditions, meeting with Israeli officials, delivering a speech to the Knesset and debating with its members. It would be true to say that this was a gesture that the Israelis had never envisaged in their wildest dreams. Irrespective of the consequences that have so far resulted from Sadat's visit to Israel or that may result in the future, it is clear that the Middle East in particular and the Arab world in general have entered a new era when developments cannot be easily foreseen.

 

Sadat's visit to Israel stirred many angry reactions in the Arab world as a whole and these found expression in noisy demonstrations that took place in various Arab countries and cities, especially Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Aden, Tripoli and Algiers. Popular anger reached its climax in Damascus, Baghdad and Tripoli. The day Sadat arrived in Israel was declared a "Day of National Mourning" in Syria, where flags were flown at half-mast, citizens stopped working at noon for 5 minutes, church bells were rung and muezzins sounded the call to prayer throughout the mosques of Syria. In Iraq, celebrations of the Al-Adha feast, which coincided with the day of Sadat's visit, were cancelled in protest. Libya, the most active opponent of the visit, withdrew its recognition of the Sadat government, severed diplomatic relations with Egypt, and imposed upon it the terms of the Arab boycott against Israel, calling upon other Arab countries to follow suit. When Sadat arrived in Israel, Libya's diplomatic envoys in various parts of the world burnt the Libyan flag (the flag of the Union of Arab Republics including Egypt, Syria and Libya, established in Benghazi, Libya, in April 1971) because it had been flown alongside the Israeli flag at Sadat's reception. At the same time, several Arab newspapers and broadcasting stations, both official and semi-official, described Sadat as a "traitor," a "capitulator," a "conniver with the enemy" and an "agent of imperialism. ' Several official communiques condemned Sadat, his visit and its consequences. Sadat's visit might be received with approbation in various parts of the world, especially in the Western news media, which quickly provided a justification for the visit as being necessary to break through the "psychological barriers" - to use a new Sadat expression - between the Arabs and Israel. But public opinion in most Arab countries did not accept this justification, which appeared highly naive, given the determination of the current Israeli government not to yield on fundamental substantive issues. Rather, the visit was seen as an indication of a desire to abandon the Palestinian cause in particular and the Arab cause in general, and as a sign of willingness to conclude a separate peace with Israel by abandoning the other Arabs. It was considered proof that Sadat had changed his role from that of an advocate of a "just peace" in the Middle East to that of a man ready to capitulate.

 

Arab opposition to Sadat's visit, despite its seemingly temperamental and hasty character, goes much deeper than this. It derives from ideological stands, fears for Arab interests, and above all an assessment of the current international, Arab and Israeli situation that differed radically from Sadat's assessment and argued that the visit to Israel would only strengthen the position of the hardline right-wing Likud government. Perhaps the best way of explaining the grounds for this opposition is to examine the justifications offered for it.

 

Opposition in Egypt

 

Arab opposition to Sadat's visit first appeared in Egypt itself. When Sadat's intention to visit Jerusalem was first confirmed, Egypt's Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy submitted his resignation, declaring that "Arab sovereignty over their lands is not subject to compromise.” [1] Sadat at once appointed Mahmoud Riad, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, as Foreign Minister, but he too resigned. Butrus Ghali was then named Acting Foreign Minister. Fahmy later explained that Sadat had first broached the subject of the visit with him in September but that Fahmy had advised him against it because "it would bring to an end all that we had achieved in the past four years with the Americans, the Soviets and the Palestinians" [2] and would undermine the Geneva Conference. It is well known that Fahmy has been one of the principal advocates of promoting Egyptian and Arab relations with the US (and thus with Israel) although not at the expense of relations with the Soviet Union. The opposition in Egypt, represented by the National Progressive Unionist Party (led by Khalid Muhieddin, one of the Free Officers who carried out the 1952 revolution) issued a statement [3] calling upon Sadat to forego his visit. In its statement, the Party declared that "it was not opposed to a peaceful solution in principle," but it explained that "such a solution... depended in fact upon building up the Arabs' own strength through which we can force Israel to accept the conditions of peace." The visit, it added, "does not add to Arab strength," especially since Israel, under the Likud government had shown itself more intransigent than ever.

 

The statement added that "the visit will legitimize Jerusalem as Israel's own city at a time when all states, including the US, which is Israel's protector, refuse to recognize that right," in addition to the fact that the visit "will result in achieving what Israel has been attempting to impose, i.e., the coming into being of what it calls normal relations with the Arab states before the establishment of peace... and will extend to Israel a sort of full recognition on the international level." All this would take place "without anything in exchange or any promise of an exchange." The Party further declared that the visit would "draw Israel out of its diplomatic isolation" and would "weaken the solidarity of the Arab position and activate contradictions within the Arab world while at the same time increasing Israel's intransigence and obstinacy." The Party also stressed the fact that "our conflict with Zionism is a conflict involving our destiny and has national, economic and cultural implications... it is not merely a question of psychological delusions which can be dissipated by a friendly visit." Later on, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt also declared its opposition to the visit.

 

Palestinian Opposition

 

Outside Egypt, the Palestine National Liberation Movement, Fateh, was very quick to condemn the visit. On November 17, 1977, Fateh issued a statement [4] calling upon Sadat to "forego this step" because it would be "a dangerous turning point and a gain for world Zionism and its imperialist allies, headed by the US."

 

In its statement, Fateh maintained that the visit would place the Palestinian people and the PLO in a dangerous position in the face of an Israel "which is waxing more intransigent and is declaring loudly and clearly and on every occasion that the people of Palestine have no rights, that there can be no independent Palestinian state and no total withdrawal from occupied Arab lands." Following the Fateh statement, another communique [5] was issued by the PLO Executive Committee to coincide with the visit. In answer to Egyptian media claims that one object of the visit was to pray in the Aqsa Mosque on the Adha Feast, the declaration stated that the Mosque " which has been a symbol of the columns of liberation and the army of martyrs must not be made the temple of surrender."

 

Syria

 

In Syria, the government, Baath Party and ruling Progressive Front condemned the visit. A communique denounced it as "a painful blow to the Arab nation, a defiance of its will and a fragmentation of its national solidarity." According to the statement, the visit "would give the Zionist enemy gains that it has been unable to obtain in the last thirty years in spite of all the wars it has waged against the Arabs." Syria "believes that no individual in the Arab homeland, whoever he may be, has the right to take any decision as regards national destiny which does harm to the national cause as a whole. "

 

The Syrian-Palestinian Joint Communique

 

Following Sadat's visit, a meeting of the Syrian and Palestinian leaderships resulted in a Syrian-Palestinian communique [6] ]stating that the visit, "along with the Sadat-Begin plan, has no other aim but to impose a fait accompli on the Arab nation and thereby invalidate all genuine efforts to achieve a just peace based upon total withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories and the safeguarding of the rights of the Palestinian Arab people to return, to self-determination and to establish an independent state." The two sides affirmed that "their efforts for a just peace which are in conformity with international efforts and in harmony with the interests of the Arab nation must by no means be confused with the idea of coercion and surrender embodied in Sadat's recent visit." The two sides also asserted that they would "continue their efforts to provide genuine means to reach a just peace" in accordance with the resolutions of the Sixth Arab Summit in Algiers (November 26-29, 1973) and the Seventh Arab Summit in Rabat (October 26-29, 1974), as well as the desire of the international community as expressed in UN General Assembly resolutions in recent years.

 

Iraq

 

Iraq was not content merely to condemn Sadat's move but also attacked Syria and, indirectly, the Palestinians too for "going along with Sadat" by following the path of a political settlement. Iraq has, for some time, been calling for a condemnation of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the rejection of the Geneva Conference, and the use of force as a way of liberating the occupied territories.

 

Libya

 

In Libya, the General People's Congress issued a statement [7] before the Libyan government had taken the measures mentioned above against the Egyptian government. Sadat's resolve "to visit the occupied land and to hold discussions with the terrorist Menahem Begin" was declared to "constitute a crime against the entire Arab nation which it cannot ignore or be silent about... By acting in this manner, the Egyptian president represents no one but himself."

 

Other Arab Countries: Algeria, South Yemen, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

 

The positions adopted by most other Arab countries did not differ much in essentials from those outlined above although they were cast in more moderate tones. In Algeria, Foreign Minister Bouteflika declared that there was no point in asking whether this decision, "which is unprecedented in Arab history," would lead to positive or to negative results, or to a partial solution, "because the issue is the recognition or non-recognition of Israel. " [8] He added: "Sadat's decision conflicts with the resolutions adopted by Arab summit conferences." South Yemen advised Sadat "to turn to the Arab nation rather than to the Zionists who are occupying Arab territory" [9] In Tunisia, traditionally moderate on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Foreign Minister Shatti stated that Sadat's decision "affects all Arabs" and wondered whether "the presence of the head of an Arab state in occupied Jerusalem which the Israelis consider part of Israel... binds Egypt alone or all Arab countries." Shatti questioned the gain to be derived "from talking to the Knesset and holding discussions with extremist Zionist officials who still declare with obstinacy their refusal to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people." Shatti further stated that "the Egyptian initiative runs counter to Arab strategy as laid down at the Rabat and Algiers summits. " [10] 

 

In Lebanon, several demonstrations took place in various localities despite the government's neutral attitude. The Democratic Socialist Party condemned the visit [11] because it could not, in isolation of its Arab repercussions, lead to "any positive results, nor can it lead to any progress on the road to peace but, rather, the contrary is true... because the enemy with its rigid attitude towards a settlement perceives it as a point of weakness." The Party ridiculed Sadat's remarks about his intention to break through "the psychological barrier," which it declared to be "an ideological barrier, based upon religious racism that dominates every other consideration and for whose sake the shedding of blood is considered by Israel to be fully justified especially where the present [Likud Party] Israeli regime is concerned. " In Riyadh, the Royal Saudi Cabinet issued a statement [12] to the effect that Saudi Arabia had been surprised by Sadat's decision and that as soon as he had learnt of it, King Khalid had sent a message to the Egyptian president "about this matter, setting forth his views in no uncertain terms." The statement alluded to Saudi Arabia's displeasure regarding "certain moves whose results are uncertain and whose means are uncoordinated with the general Arab position." The statement affirmed Saudi Arabia's adherence to the resolutions of the Rabat and Algiers summit conferences.

 

Before his Jerusalem visit, however, Sadat had received public support from at least two Arab states.

 

Sudan

 

Immediately upon his return from Jerusalem, Sudanese President Numeiry visited Cairo, later explaining that his visit was to express his support for Sadat "for his great victory in the field of international strategy." [13] But the opposition National Front in Sudan issued a statement [14] condemning Sadat's visit as well as Numeiry's support for it, since "the national cause is not an item to be bought and sold in the political market place but a question of existence... of life and death... for the youth of our nation." The Front, which is at present holding discussions with Numeiry's government with a view to joining it, explained that "the unreserved support and the unwise visit of the Sudanese president to Cairo for the purpose of declaring his government's support for the Egyptian government is to be considered as a serious blow to the discussions... taking place to achieve national unity."

 

Morocco

 

Sadat's most ardent supporter, however, was undoubtedly King Hassan II of Morocco who, it seems, was one godfather of the visit (the other being Rumanian president Ceaucescu). While Sadat was in Israel, the King had stated in an interview with a French newspaper that he was impressed with what he called "Israeli genius." He also sent several representatives to the various Arab states to persuade them to support Sadat's visit. But students at Rabat University held a two-day strike to protest against the visit.

 

Jordan

 

Jordan adopted a middle position, calling for "wisdom and caution," and appearing as if it hoped that Sadat's visit would accomplish something to which it could subscribe. Jordanian Information Minister Adnan Abu Odeh expressed his satisfaction that "psychological barriers" had been broken. A Jordanian newspaper, however, warned that "the tragedy might become more intense if Cairo persists in its solitary decision and turns its back to the Arabs and the cause," and cautioned that "while the Arabs cannot go to war without Cairo, Cairo and Israel cannot arrive at total peace without the Arabs. " [15] At a later stage, King Hussein visited a number of Arab states to urge them to support Sadat or to express sympathy with him because the cause would suffer if he were to stand alone.

 

DIVISION IN THE ARAB WORLD

 

The Tripoli Conference Putting aside the angry phrases used in a number of statements issued by one Arab side or another, it must be recognized that on a strictly rational basis, most Arab reservations about the schismatic effect of the Sadat visit, which took place without consulting any Arab leader, [16] proved to be correct. The visit led to the splitting of the Arabs into two (or more) camps, with political polarization once again returning to the Arab world the same polarization, ironically, that Sadat had himself done much to change (he had often boasted of his success in doing so). In reaction to Sadat's visit, a conference was held in Libya early in December which included the heads of a number of Arab states, at the end of which it was decided to establish a "national front" made up of Syria and the PLO which South Yemen, Libya and Algeria joined (and which other Arab countries were invited to join) in order to work "to eliminate the results of Sadat's visit. . . and its consequences. " [17] The Conference declared that the visit disrupted "the possibility of establishing a just and honourable peace that would secure the Arab nation's national rights" and led to "isolating the Arab nation from its allies and friends in the African continent... and from the non-aligned bloc and the Islamic states," in favour of an alliance with Western imperialism. The visit had also "damaged relations of friendship and cooperation among Arab states... and with the Soviet Union and the Socialist camp countries." The five leaders accused Sadat further of attempting to create "an alliance between the Zionist enemy and the present Egyptian regime with the object of liquidating the Arab and Palestinian cause, fragmenting the Arab nation and endangering its national interests. " [18] They associated themselves explicitly with the Third World in condemning the actions of the United States in that entire region.

 

The Tripoli conference also adopted certain sanctions against the Egyptian regime. The conferees announced their refusal to take part in any Arab League meetings held in Cairo. They further resolved to contact League members in order to discuss the question of the relocation of the League headquarters presently located in Cairo, as well as the relocation of subsidiary organizations and even the question of Egyptian membership. The laws and regulations of the Arab boycott against Israel were to be applied against all Egyptian individuals, companies and institutions that had dealings with the Israelis, in addition to a decision to freeze political and diplomatic relations with the Egyptian government and terminate all contacts with it on the Arab and international levels.

 

Egypt responded to this last decision by severing its diplomatic relations with the five Arab states and the PLO. It also halted- all flights by its national airline, Egypt Air, to a number of Arab states. The Conference, in answering views expressed both inside and outside Egypt regarding Egypt's leading role among the Arabs, to the effect that the Arabs would in the end find themselves compelled to follow Egypt's example, declared that "it esteems the role of the Egyptian people... in the national struggle of the Arab nation," adding, however, in language rarely used about Egypt, that "Egypt is neither the beginning nor the end, and while the Arab nation gains in status because of Egypt, Egypt too can only gain in status in conjunction with the Arab nation and shrinks without it. " [19] 

 

Following the Conference, Qadhafi and Assad also issued an order dismissing Sadat from the presidency of the Union of Arab Republics and transferring all Union agencies from Cairo to Tripoli. The reason given was that "the Union came into existence as a result of the fact... that the unity of the Arab world with all its resources and all the political, military and economic potentialities it provides, constitutes the decisive answer to the challenge of imperialism and Zionism and provides the means to recover dignity and to liberate our territories. " [20] Sadat, by visiting Jerusalem, had violated the constitution of the Union.

 

After Jerusalem: The Cairo Conference

 

Sadat's call for a conference in Cairo "to prepare for the Geneva Conference" met with varying reactions. The result, for one reason or another, was that no Arab party agreed to attend. Syria and the PLO did not even bother to respond to the invitation.

 

Clearly, Sadat had never been as lacking in allies as when he came back from Jerusalem. Nor had Egypt ever been isolated by the Arab countries in this manner.

 

When the Cairo Conference began, two unfriendly surprises were provided for the Egyptians by their Israeli guests. The Egyptians had wanted to place name plates for the various delegates participating at the round table and had suggested placing a plaque with the words "Palestine Liberation Organization" before the chairs assigned to the Palestinian delegation, but the Israeli delegates raised objections and asked that the name plate should read "The Arabs of Eretz Israel" (in Cairo!). The result was a compromise where no name plates of any kind were used. Something, however, had to be done, since Sadat had said that Egypt would represent both the present and the absent participants. Accordingly, the flags of all parties invited were flown outside the Mena House hotel where the conference was holding its meetings, and the Palestinian flag was naturally included. Again, however, the Israeli delegation raised an objection when they saw "a strange and unknown" flag flying among the other ones. So the Palestinian flag was removed, along with the flags of the other non-participant parties.

 

As a result of his visit to Jerusalem Sadat entered upon a quiet but momentous diplomatic conflict with those Arab countries that adhered in both letter and spirit to the resolutions of the seventh Arab Summit in Rabat in 1974, Arab summit resolutions are adopted unanimously and through persuasion and cannot easily be retracted. The "top secret" resolutions of the Summit, adopted in the light of the situation then prevailing in the Arab- Israeli conflict, were made public by the Syrian government through the Syrian News Agency, Sana, in order to counteract the claims of the Egyptian news media that Sadat's visit had been a fulfillment of these resolutions. [21] The resolutions explicitly reaffirmed the following resolutions adopted by the Sixth Arab Summit Conference in Algiers in 1973.

 

1. The total liberation of all Arab territories occupied during the aggression of June. 1967, without abandoning or forsaking any piece of territory or in any way affecting national sovereignty thereupon.

 

2. The liberation of the Arab city of Jerusalem and rejection of any state of affairs that may impinge upon total Arab sovereignty over the holy city.

 

3. Commitment to the restoration of the national rights of the Palestinian people as determined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

 

4. The cause of Palestine is the cause of all Arabs. No Arab side can abandon this commitment, as affirmed in resolutions of past Arab summit conferences.

 

These resolutions further committed the Arab states "not to accept any attempt at achieving any partial political settlements... and to pursue policies that would lead to the isolation of Israel."

 

Of course, the initiative of President Sadat not only did not "pursue policies that would lead to the isolation of Israel" but involved the Egyptian President in talking to Israelis "on their own ground," as he put it, i. e., in the Knesset, and telling them, in full sight and sound of the whole world, that "your country has become an established fact." This language can only be interpreted, as it was interpreted in Israel, to mean at least a kind of defacto and prior recognition of Israel by Sadat and Egypt, in spite of the reservations expressed thereafter by the Egyptian regime. This was done without any reciprocal Israeli action, or even the promise of such action. Sadat had also stated before the Knesset that he agreed to turn Jerusalem into an "open city" (a right which he does not possess) at a time when a sizeable number of states which maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, including the Great Powers, insist upon keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv and refuse to transfer them to Jerusalem because they do not recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Sadat's conduct had an obvious impact upon Israel's claims to dominate Jerusalem. Thus, before Sadat's visit, US Secretary of the Treasury Blumenthal, while on a visit to Israel, had refused to be accompanied by Mayor Kollek when visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, preferring to be accompanied by the US Consul; this was because the US had never recognized Israel's annexation of Jerusalem. After the visit, however, US Secretary of State Vance did not feel any qualms about such a visit, although he stated that his visit had no political implications. The change, however, is obvious.

 

However, the most momentous result of Sadat's visit to Jerusalem was the "agreement" he reached with Begin which, in sum, is that "there shall be no more wars. " If Sadat adheres to this commitment but Israel continues to cling to its current hardline stand, this renunciation of resistance to Israel can only mean an Egyptian acceptance of basic Israeli terms in any settlement. Despite the interpretation which maintains that the phrase "no more wars" will finally come into effect only when Israel withdraws completely from all occupied Arab lands, it appears that Sadat has more than this in mind, befitting a true gentleman. In his speech [22] before the Egyptian National Assembly after his return, he declared that he is "fully entitled" to practice "strategic as well as tactical deception," but he added that he would not "morally deceive anyone at all" (not even an occupier of Egyptian territory!)

 

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE VISIT

 

An analysis of the reaction of the Arab world to the visit of Sadat to Israel inevitably focuses upon many actions and gestures which he was invited to make by his Israeli hosts, and whose symbolism he himself, unlike the Palestinian Arabs, does not appear to have fully appreciated.

 

One such action was his visit to the Yad Vashem memorial commemorating the victims of Nazism. The Jews of Nazi Europe, of course, suffered massacres and atrocities at the hands of Western governments (as a number of peoples of the Third World have also done in the last century or two). But one of the greatest achievements of Zionism has been to associate the State of Israel indelibly in the Western mind with the need to guarantee refuge and security for the victims of these atrocities who succeeded in escaping Hitler.

 

Such an association is by no means logical. The problem of the Jewish refugees of the world after World War II could easily have been solved by their assimilation in the many countries who were sympathetic to their plight and willing to absorb them. As the recent case of Russian Jews shows, most Jews, even refugees, prefer to live somewhere in the world other than in Israel. After World War II, the Arab countries offered to absorb a large number of Jewish refugees, with full rights, if this step could avoid the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs. The Zionists, on the other hand, insisted that such refugees should go only to Palestine, to create a state there, and supported Western governments who were unwilling to admit large numbers of Jewish refugees to their own countries.

 

Palestinians have not only suffered the wretchedness and bitterness of being displaced to solve a European problem - the persecution of Jews - for which they were in no way responsible; they have also watched in anguish as the State of Israel has used the historical misery of the Jews - symbolized by the Yad Vashem memorial - to justify maintaining the present misery of homelessness, wretched living conditions, and above all the lack of a state in Palestine and the denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Had it not been for Hitler, the State of Israel would never have been created; but if it had been created and carried out the same actions as it currently commits, it would have completely alienated the sympathy of the world. The very same obscurantist territorial claims, expansionism, colonization and denial of the right of Palestinian self-determination for which Israel finds understanding and sympathy in a surprising number of areas in the West, would long ago have consigned it to the isolation and contempt reserved for South Africa had Israel not been able to operate under the moral cover of "saving" the victims of European persecution. This has enabled the West to forget the fact that Zionism is a nineteenth century European nationalist and colonizing movement that modelled itself upon the aggressive European nationalism of the time, and has maintained this tradition unbroken ever since.

 

Now the Palestinians saw, not a Western leader, but President Sadat, standing before the Yad Vashem memorial, commemorating victims of the Nazi catastrophe for which the Arabs were not responsible (save, perhaps, for facts such as that Sadat himself was once a Nazi sympathizer and had been imprisoned during World War II for his views). There was some irony, too, in that he visited the memorial in the company of Zionist officials. One aspect of Zionism little known outside Israel is the secret collaboration that took place at one period between certain important sections of the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany. During the 1930s while Jews were being persecuted but not exterminated by the Nazis the Zionist movement breached the economic boycott which many Jews in the world attempted to impose on Hitler's regime. The Zionists instead concluded the "Haavara" agreement by which German Jews were transferred to Palestine, along with their capital (the minimum sum permissible per head was about one thousand pounds sterling), in exchange for the Zionist purchase of German goods for the equivalent amount of capital transferred . [23] Contacts continued through the 1930s, with the Zionists eager to assist in any policy of deportation of German Jews that would bring them to Palestine. According to a German intelligence document in the files captured by the Americans during World War II, and now kept at the archives of the American Commission for the Study of War Documents in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, Adolf Eichmann was informed by Zionist Haganah representatives whom he met in the Middle East in 1937 of the "great joy" of "nationalist Jewish circles" arising from "the radical German policy towards the Jews, as this policy would increase the Jewish population in Palestine, so that one can reckon with a Jewish majority in Palestine over the Arabs in the foreseeable future. " [24] 

 

One group that went a step further than the mainstream Zionists in dealing with Hitler (again, before most of the Jews of Europe were exterminated) was the Stern Gang, or Lehi, the extreme right wing of the Zionist movement. Early in 1941, when it appeared that  Nazi Germany might well win the war, Lehi's leaders attempted to make a military alliance with Hitler against Britain, which was regarded by Lehi as being the principal enemy of Zionism, owing to its occupation of Palestine. The (unsuccessful) proposal was that Jews in Nazi Europe would be transformed into an army under the control of Lehi, which would then make war against Britain in Palestine on the side of Germany, to establish a fascist Jewish state in the Middle East allied to Nazi Europe. [25] 

 

One of the leaders of Lehi, Yitzhak Shamir, is currently speaker of the Israeli Knesset. It was he who presented Sadat to the Knesset when the latter made his speech, and he who sat on one side of the Egyptian President while the speech was being made. Sadat was flanked on the other side by Prime Minister Menahem Begin, the former leader of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi.

 

Not far from Yad Vashem lies the site of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, now known as the Kiryat Shaul Hospital for Mental Diseases. On April 9, 1948, Begin and Shamir, one the head of the Irgun, the other a leader of the Lehi, ordered the combined forces of the two organizations to attack the village. It was there that a massacre was committed resulting in the destruction of the village and the murder of 250 of the village's inhabitants, mainly women and children. The rest were marched off in a " victory parade" through the streets of Jerusalem. The carnage at Deir Yassin was so frightful that Moshe Sharett, then head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, was forced to send a cable of condolences to King Abdullah of Transjordan. But this is not the most important issue. The special "character" of this massacre lay in the fact that the news which the Zionists spread about it on the widest possible scale contributed to stimulating a wave of terror among a large number of Palestinians, forcing them to abandon their homes. The "official" Israeli history of the 1948 War describes the impact of this massacre by stating, "The massacre undoubtedly was a contributing factor in the collapse of the Arab rearguard in the period which followed.” [26] Begin and Shamir, the perpetrators of the Deir Yassin massacre, represent the most extreme and obdurate Zionist policy vis-'a-vis the Arabs, the one that most blindly denies the right of self-determination to the Palestinians. Sadat's visit was interpreted by them as showing greater willingness to accept their views on the Palestinian issue. To a Palestinian, they are the last Israelis to be worthy of shaking hands with the head of the largest Arab state.

 

In the history of conflicts and wars among various nations and peoples it has happened, more than once, that the head of a state paid a visit to an enemy state. Usually, however, he obtains a significant concession in return. Sadat did not. One irresistible parallel is the visit of Marshal Petain to Hitler when the Nazis were already occupying parts of France in June 1940. It was then that he signed the documents of surrender in the same train compartment which had witnessed the triumph of Foch in 1918. The Vichy pro-Fascist government was then set up. Sadat did not sign any open agreement in Jerusalem, but it appears that he gave Begin certain guarantees which amount to an agreement. In fact, the situation he created, in which a triumphant Israeli right wing is now more resolutely opposed than ever to real concessions on the issue of Palestinian statehood, since it sees Sadat's visit as a capitulation to its own clear and tough line on all issues, is one in which any agreement with Israel other than a capitulation seems unattainable.

 

THE ROAD TO THE KNESSET

 

Since the October War, there has been a basic Arab agreement that any peace settlement with Israel must include a complete withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the vacated Palestinian territories. The main point here was the need for a comprehensive settlement, at which all issues would be settled together. It was felt that if the Arab world, with the military and economic capacities that the October War revealed, could maintain a high level of strength and unity, the pressures on the United States and Israel to accede to such a peace settlement could prove highly effective.

 

Sadat's visit to the Knesset was only the latest of many steps in the opposite direction: towards unilateral initiatives and unilateral concessions which have strengthened the Israeli political and military negotiating position vis-a-vis the Arab world to such an extent that the kind of peace agreement which the Arab world sought (and for which Sadat voiced his own desire in the Knesset) has become increasingly unlikely.

 

It appears that Sadat's plan to visit the Knesset evolved only recently and apparently took shape only in September, [27] although the reasons that led him to do so date further back in time to the period when he first assumed power. Sadat took over the presidency of Egypt following Nasser's sudden death in late September 1970. It happened that he was then vice-president and during the early months of his rule, he brought a decisive end to the power struggle, engineering a coup against his opponents on May 15, 1971, whom he proceeded to "cut into pieces," to use his expression, and thereafter assumed full power. The Egyptian political power structure is such that an Egyptian President wields great personal authority. Since assuming power, President Sadat has taken all momentous decisions himself, with minimal consultations with others, and often without anyone's knowledge. He has ignored the kind of advice that a broader, well-informed body of advisers on international relations could provide.

 

When confronted by the problem of Israel's occupation of lands, including Egyptian territory, Sadat completed with relative success the preparations begun by his predecessor for the October War of 1973. In this effort, he coordinated his efforts with a number of Arab states for waging war and instituting an oil boycott against the West. But the strategy he followed failed to utilize the full strength of these resources. Barely ten days after the beginning of the hostilities, Sadat declared, before the results of the battles had become clear, that he was calling for a peace conference in Geneva, explaining to the world at large that the aim of the war was to activate the political situation, not to liberate the occupied territories. Accordingly, he had opened the way to a political compromise, and he was to make many of them in the coming months.

 

The Israeli reaction was somewhat different. Realizing that there was a possibility of vast Arab resources being channelled against them and threatening their very existence, the Israelis quickly sized up the new state of affairs and soon after the war ended they carried out a large-scale reorganization of their human and material resources, while maintaining a hard line on all substantive issues. Their efforts in this direction were aided by Henry Kissinger, a former German Jewish refugee who became first a university professor at Harvard and then the US Secretary of State. During the negotiations for the first and second disengagement agreements between Egypt and Israel, Kissinger obtained unprecedented gains and concessions for the Israelis. To summarize, the US has given Israel $10 billion worth of economic and military aid since the October War, in addition to the signing of guarantees in the second Sinai agreement which effectively gave Israel the right of veto over Palestinian self-determination and independent Palestinian representation at the Geneva peace conference, in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from a few hundred square kilometres of desert in Sinai. In spite of this, Sadat appears to have believed that Kissinger, whom he described regularly as " Dear Henry," was really on his side and was grieved to learn that he was to leave the State Department after Ford's defeat in the presidential election.

 

More dangerous than all this was the counter-productive impact of the October War on the psychology of Sadat and the Egyptian elite. Anyone who examines the fortifications known as the Bar-Lev line which once stretched across the eastern bank of the Suez Canal for a distance of 170 kilometres and recalls that the Egyptian army stormed and destroyed them in six hours at the loss of only 200 soldiers, in an action believed to be impossible by the whole world, cannot blame Sadat too much if he felt rather conceited. But he derived a wholly erroneous conclusion from this success: that this sole military blow against Israel was enough to "convince" her to accede to Arab demands and to " recognize" the Arab point of view. When the war ended, he failed to strengthen and expand his military capability and to make it prepared at all times if the need arose, or to use such a capability to strengthen his position and his credibility during the negotiations. His gravest error was to imagine that the mere mention of Israel's losses in men and material during the October War was sufficient to bring Israel around to agreeing to the political settlement he had proposed (an error that parallels Dayan's belief after the June War of 1967 that the Arabs would not contemplate another war for the next twenty years). When the first anniversary of the October War came round, it was clear that the military balance had shifted in Israel's favour, and was to shift further that way later on. In spite of this, Sadat took no steps at all to remedy the new state of affairs but instead began to prepare for the "battle for peace," taking refuge in the memory of the October War. As Israel continued to increase its strength and thus to rigidify its policies, Sadat was engrossed in talking about "the crossing" on every conceivable occasion, to the point where it became an obsession that dominated his thinking.

 

Sadat was never clear as to how peace could be achieved. The idea of holding a peace conference in Geneva was Sadat's and it was he who dragged the other Arab parties to it despite the fact that the Conference is still mere ink on paper and has never met with its full complement of participants. But it was also Sadat who buried the idea of the Conference and the benefits to be derived therefrom once he had allowed the balance of power to swing in Israel's favour and Israel had become more intransigent. When Sadat at last realized that his idea might come to nought because of Israel's intransigence, and having lost most of his bargaining power, he had no alternative but to go to Menahem Begin himself in order to " convince" him to go to Geneva and to "embarrass" the Americans and make them " apply pressure" on Israel.

 

In connection with the Americans, the second major error committed by Sadat becomes apparent. When Sadat came to power, Egypt maintained close relations with the Soviet Union as a result of which the Egyptian army obtained all the arms it needed, enabling it to protect Egypt and to wage the October War on the one hand, as well as providing the country with the aid necessary to set up factories, workshops and productive institutions and to build the Aswan High Dam on the other - all of which served Egyptian interests well. These good relations were viewed with hostility by the Americans and their "moderate" (i. e., pro-American) Arab supporters, who tried unsuccessfully more than once to undermine these relations during the presidency of Nasser. The situation changed, however, when Sadat came to power and these attempts were finally successful. Sadat expelled Soviet experts from Egypt in 1972 and did so in an insulting manner. No sooner had the October War ended than Sadat adopted a series of anti-Soviet measures, driving the Soviets to impose a temporary embargo on arms shipments to Egypt. Sadat continued to challenge the Soviets by inciting the enmity of Egyptians against them, through the provision of incorrect versions of the history of relations with them. Meanwhile, he did everything in his power to draw closer to the Americans and to court their favour, often in an undignified manner. Although he had stated, for instance, that he would not send a single Egyptian soldier outside the country on any mission while Egyptian territory remained under occupation and had refused even to contribute to the Arab peace-keeping forces sent to Lebanon by the Arab League in the wake of the Lebanese civil war in 1976, he did not hesitate to send Egyptian pilots to Zaire in mid-1977 to take part in the war there and to contribute to the war effort "against international communism," in an attempt to demonstrate to the US what a useful ally Egypt could be (Israel, after all, could never intervene in force in Africa because of the sensitives such a "western" landing of troops would provoke in the continent). The result was that the Soviet Union imposed a total arms embargo on Egypt which weakened the Egyptian army, whereas the USA could only manage to supply Sadat with a few military transport aircraft. Sadat had hoped futilely that his rapprochement with the Americans would win him their friendship and lead them to adopt a more balanced policy towards the Middle East conflict and thus to apply pressure to Israel by making it adopt more realistic policies to solve outstanding disputes. But all to no avail. The enormous strategic error committed by antagonizing the Soviets is obvious, and one of its results was no doubt to impel Sadat forward to his meeting with Begin.

 

Sadat's third major error is bound up with the socio-political underpinning of his regime. Nasser, in attempting to overcome Egypt's poverty and to improve its economic situation while the country was living through a population explosion, had followed an economic policy which may perhaps be described as one of distributing the poverty more evenly among the citizens. His regime had led to the gradual domination of the economy by the state, which now worked to provide most basic consumer items at a low cost to every citizen, and tried to build up the industrial productive capacity of the nation in order gradually to increase the standard of living. Sadat replaced this policy with what he called an "open economy." The door was opened to some extent for foreign capital to operate in Egypt in the hope that foreign investments would flood in and help to build up the economy. The result was that comparatively little foreign capital entered Egypt, but that there did arise in the country a small and corrupt class of company managers, government officials and army officers who grew ultra-rich from exploiting the powers of the bureaucracy to award contracts, grant import licenses, etc., -- to their own advantage. Meanwhile, the poor classes became poorer as a result of the inflation which grew rapidly from day to day. The Egyptian regime's reaction has been to blame the situation on the state of war which Egypt has been through (even though the war expenditure of 1973 was paid back to Egypt almost in its entirety by the Arab oil-producing states, while Saudi Arabia undertook to pay for the restructuring of the Egyptian army for the following five years). About 12 billion dollars has entered Egypt from the end of the war to the present, made up of Suez Canal dues, the sale of Egyptian oil and Arab and foreign aid. This capital, however, led to no palpable improvement in the mismanaged and corrupt Egyptian economy. With time, popular resentment and anger grew against Sadat's regime. In return, his reaction has been to promise an age of prosperity when peace is established.

 

The regime shook when hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Cairo at the beginning of this year following a rise in the price of basic consumer commodities, a rise which the authorities were forced to retract. Accordingly, Egypt increased its pressure for the convening of the Geneva Conference, and when it became clear that Israel was becoming more intransigent on the fundamental issues of the West Bank and the Palestinians, and that the USA was retreating and that the Conference might not be held after all, Sadat decided to replace Geneva with the Knesset instead.

 

ELIMINATING THE PALESTINIANS?

 

The strategic errors committed by Sadat on the political, military and economic levels were the basic causes driving him to go to Jerusalem. The immediate cause, however, was the deadlocked effort to reconvene the Geneva Conference, born of the complexities of the Palestinian problem.

 

For the Palestinians in general and the PLO in particular, Sadat's visit to Jerusalem represented a grave threat, both on the procedural as well as on the substantive levels.

 

On the procedural level, to begin with, it must be pointed out that Sadat had first made public his intention to visit Israel in the Egyptian National Assembly on November 9, 1977, in the presence of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, who had been invited to attend that session. The invitation was no accident, but came as a sort of "reward" to Arafat for his efforts to mediate between Egypt and Libya. In the previous two months, when an armed conflict had broken out between Libya and Egypt, Arafat had spent most of his time shuttling back and forth between the two capitals, meeting the two presidents and attempting to reconcile them, while defending and strengthening the position of Egypt and of Sadat. Arafat succeeded in his efforts and the fighting stopped. Qadhafi was convinced of the value of an economic union with Egypt. He agreed to supply Egypt, as an "advance payment" preparatory to reconciliation, with 500 tanks (confirmed by former foreign minister Fahmy), [28] 5 squadrons of fighter aircraft and a gift of several million dollars.[29] Arafat informed Sadat of this before the latter had reached the National Assembly to deliver his speech assuring him that Qadhafi had agreed to meet with him to settle all outstanding problems between them in a final manner on November 19, 1977 (the very day that Sadat went off to meet Begin instead!). In the Assembly, Sadat read from his prepared speech until after the passage where he outlined Egypt's conditions for settlement. Then he laid his papers aside and said: "We are all happy that a dear friend and a wonderful colleague in our struggle is with us today, brother Yasser Arafat... In Saudi Arabia, there was total accord reached with brother Yasser Arafat... chairman of the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the people of Palestine, [30] “stressing the word "sole" audibly. Sadat then proceeded to read from his speech for a few more minutes and then finally laid his papers aside and dropped his bombshell: "Israel will be amazed to hear me say that... I am prepared to go to their very home, to the Knesset itself, and discuss things with them." [31] Clearly, Sadat had wanted to give the Arab world the completely incorrect impression that he had obtained Arafat's approval before going to Jerusalem., thus causing Arafat intense embarrassment later on.

 

In Israel itself, Sadat, acting on Dayan's advice, did not once mention the PLO by name. Upon his return to Egypt, he began to attack the PLO, declaring that he had met the real Palestinians when he visited Israel and it was they who had welcomed him. In fact, Sadat was not welcomed by any Palestinian of consequence, since all the mayors refused to go to the airport to meet him, and those who met him later on did so at his own request. The ad hoc "spokesman" for the Palestinians, Sheikh Akram Sabri, who delivered the al-Adha Feast sermon in the Aqsa Mosque in the presence of President Sadat, spoke of "the ineradicable nature of Islamic Jerusalem both in spirit and in creed... and there can be no renunciation of the city of Jerusalem." [32] He reminded Sadat of the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, who conquered Jerusalem, and of Saladin, who drove the Crusaders out of the region several centuries ago. The implication was obvious. The Sheikh had only one request to make of Sadat, which was to work for the release of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons. This kind of request is usually made by Palestinians inside Israel or the occupied territories to those who collaborate with the Israeli military authorities.

 

The PLO subsequently addressed a short memorandum to Sadat telling him to stop contesting its status as the representative of the Palestinians. The hardline stand, both public and private, taken by a number of Arab states which condemned Sadat's attempt to undermine the PLO also brought about a verbal retreat by Sadat, although he clearly had little intention of doing anything for the PLO.

 

The outlines of the new Egyptian policy, which point to a readiness to abandon the PLO, will undoubtedly mean a loss for the PLO. It is no secret that the PLO has, for the past four years at least, been coordinating policies closely with Egypt. Egypt had, of all Arab countries, also been the one that had most adhered to the letter and spirit of the Rabat resolutions, recognizing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It is true that Sadat once agreed in a communique issued jointly with King Hussein during the latter's visit to Egypt in mid-1974 to "share" Palestinian representation between him and the PLO, but he quickly retracted. During 1976, when Syria sent in its troops against the Palestinian forces in Lebanon, Sadat openly declared his strong support for the PLO and secretly supplied it with considerable arms and ammunition, sending Palestine Liberation Army units stationed in Egypt into Lebanon to help the Palestinians and the Lebanese National Movement. Relations between Sadat and the PLO had become so close that the Palestinian "opposition leader," George Habbash, was led to declare that the PLO leaders insisted upon holding the Palestine National Council in Cairo so that the [new] Executive Committee would then proceed "to obtain Sadat's blessings. "' [33] (The charge is, of course, inaccurate because the Palestine National Council does not officially meet in Cairo but at the Arab League headquarters, which is the only pan-Arab "area" in Cairo.)

 

Sadat's abandonment of the PLO is no easy matter for him. Nor will this decision meet with the approval of all the Arabs, most of whom identify the PLO with the Palestine cause. Even if this Egyptian retreat does in fact take place, it will not be an irreversible catastrophe, since there will still remain about 100 other states, both Arab and foreign, that extend recognition to the PLO. One must also bear in mind that Arab recognition of the PLO came after international recognition in the UN General Assembly (by about two weeks), which in turn came as a result of the struggle of the PLO itself, which has not lost its capacity for struggle. This capacity will probably palpably improve in the not too distant future. But the question of the PLO, despite its importance, is not basic. It is merely the address on top of the message. The content is really whether Egypt is ready, by trying to abandon the PLO, to move at the same time to abandon the Palestinian cause as a cause involving national rights for all Palestinians, and to deal instead with the Palestinians as refugees, thus splitting the Palestinian people into two parts: those inside the occupied territories and those outside it. If this takes place, it will be tantamount to a prelude to ignoring the two million Palestinians currently outside the occupied territory and to retreating from the demand for an independent Palestinian state. If this is, in fact, the new course that is being pursued by Sadat after his visit to Israel, he will be on his way towards acceptance of a new Carter-Brzezinski doctrine, developed under the influence of Henry Kissinger and Rabbi Schindler, President of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in the USA, with the blessings of Begin.

 

The new Carter-Brzezinski doctrine as regards the Palestinian problem is astonishing and needs some explanation. When Carter was sworn in as President, several positive and important steps were taken by him on the road to finding a just solution for the Palestinian problem. These steps were unprecedented in the history of any previous US administration. Ignoring the Zionist uproar which arose as a result of these steps, the changes introduced by Carter and his administration with respect to the American interpretation of the Palestinian problem can be summarized under three headings, all of which were favourably received by the PLO. The first was Carter's statement, made in mid-March 1977, concerning the necessity of creating a "homeland" for the Palestinians. Carter's statement was made while the Palestine National Council was meeting in Cairo. Arafat described his remarks as positive, adding that Carter "had touched upon the core of the Middle East problem. " [34] The second point came in a statement issued by the US State Department in mid-September concerning the necessity for Palestinian participation in the Geneva Conference when it convened. Arafat responded by describing the statement as a "positive step," adding that "it confirms an objective fact which is that the Palestine problem is the core of the conflict in the Middle East. " [35] The third point came in the joint US-Soviet declaration issued in early October 1977, calling for the convening of the Geneva Conference before the year ended in order to arrive at a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict, provided that this would lead to the "resolution of the Palestine question, including ensuring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people." [36] The Palestine News Agency, Wafa, also welcomed this declaration, affirming that it pointed to the fact that "positive efforts were being made by the two superpowers to achieve a just and permanent peace in the region.” [37] Even the ultra-rejectionist spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine described it as "interesting.” [38] 

 

Throughout the period, Carter and a number of administration officials were calling upon the PLO to accept UN Security Council Resolution 242, even if this were done with some reservations, in order that the USA could begin a "dialogue" with it which might lead to PLO participation in the efforts to convene the Geneva Conference. Consequently, indirect "contacts" were established through some friendly states and individuals and "messages" were exchanged between the US administration and the PLO, during which the latter outlined its position regarding the political efforts being made to reach a settlement in the region. The PLO's position in this regard was to express its agreement in principle to the US demands provided that the USA would also respond, even if only in principle, to the Palestinian demands, foremost of which was the demand relating to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. During these contacts, the PLO also explained that it was ready to adopt extremely flexible and positive stands in order to bolster efforts being made to arrive at a just solution of the problem; it was not prepared, however, to place itself at the mercy of the Americans nor to rely upon their good intentions, fearing that the US administration might in future retract its policies, even those that were made public, as a result of pressures applied upon it. The Palestinians, however, privately agreed to accept Security Council Resolution 242 provided that one single addition was made to it: the recognition of Palestinian national rights. The US rejected this offer as well as a later PLO offer to accept a Security Council resolution confirming the US-Soviet joint communique of October 1977 as the basis for Middle East peace talks.

 

It seems that US officials were, however, able to understand the Palestinian position and to appreciate it. They quickly began to prepare for the convening of the Geneva Conference. In the last days of September they issued a working paper regarding the agenda of the conference, calling, however, for the participation of the parties concerned on the basis of geographical working groups, and providing that delegates "who are unknown members of the PLO" could join the Palestinian delegation. A few days later came the joint US-Soviet declaration.

 

Then a change began. Carter's policy regarding the Palestinians did not meet with Israel's approval, nor with the approbation of the Zionist lobby and its allies in the USA. These began gradually to exert all efforts to oppose and frustrate the president's policy. The opposition gradually picked up strength and reached a climax following the publication of the joint Soviet-US declaration. One aspect of this opposition was that Israel's Foreign Minister Dayan, who was then in the USA, took along Rabbi Alexander Schindler, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, on a tour of Jewish groups in the USA to whip up opposition against Carter and his administration. [39] Apparently the two men did not need to do much in this regard, for they had held only a few meetings when Dayan was invited to meet Carter and Vance in New York to discuss Israel's objections and to try to arrive at a new accord. Panic on the American side was clear, because they insisted upon reaching agreement. The meeting lasted from 6. 30 p. m. until 2. 30 a.m., with an hour's break. Carter himself attended the meeting and stayed until after midnight. [40] At the end of the meeting, a new accord was reached, which appeared in the form of a US-Israeli working paper for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference. This paper in effect abrogated all earlier and positive US positions regarding the Palestine question since it contained no mention of any "homeland" or any Palestinian "legitimate rights." Instead, it speaks of ''the West Bank and Gaza issues" and of "the solution of the problem of the Arab [not even the Palestinian] refugees. " [41] In addition, the paper stated that the only basis for convening the Geneva Conference would be Security Council resolutions nos. 242 and 338, and thus contradicted in both letter and spirit the joint US-Soviet declaration issued only a few days earlier.

 

In other words, and in brief, Carter and his administration had, in the US- Israeli working paper, retracted all their previous positions regarding the Palestine question, in a highly undignified manner to which even amateur politicians do not normally resort. Many had feared that Carter's administration would in the end retract its declared policy regarding the Middle East problem, but no one expected that this retraction would be made so soon.

 

Matters did not stop at this point. Carter and Brzezinski, in order to cover up the retraction of their position on the Palestine problem and to justify their fear of the Zionist lobby and its allies, began to cast aspersions on the PLO and to express their hope of finding "moderate" Palestinians to participate in Geneva instead of the PLO. It is clear that the terminology of "moderate" Palestinians means Palestinians acceptable to Israel - a very small group indeed. What is really required by the US and Israel is a group of Palestinian Quislings who would sign international documents abandoning the national rights of the two million Palestinians outside the West Bank and Gaza.

 

This new Carter-Brzezinski stand as regards the Palestinian issue does not differ markedly from Begin's own interpretation of the case. Begin, a pupil of Jabotinsky, founder of the quasi-fascist Zionist revisionist movement, has a long reputation as a Zionist extremist par excellence. He heads a government coalition bound together most notably by extremist tendencies, religious prejudice and expansionism. He is fully committed to the preservation of Israeli sovereignty over the "Land of Israel." The "Land of Israel" that Menahem Begin has fought for most of his life not only refers to Palestine but stretches to include portions of Southern Lebanon, the south-western portion of Syria and the whole of the inhabited portion of Transjordan. Begin still refuses to pronounce the word "Palestine" in Hebrew. Although in English, for public relations purposes, he sometimes refers to "Palestinian Arabs" for lack of any other suitable phrase, within Israel his references are always to the "Arabs of Eretz Israel."

 

Begin's, and Israel's, problem is basically that the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip include about one million Palestinians. The Israelis want the land, but not the people. Accordingly, Israel has refrained from annexing these territories, not only because of its fear of international repercussions that may result, but basically because of apprehension about a marked increase in the "Gentile" population which in the long run might affect the Jewishness of Israel. As a result of all these considerations, various Israeli plans are proposed from time to time to solve the problem of the occupied territories, the latest of which is Begin's offer to grant "autonomy" to these areas under Israeli military (and economic) domination and within the framework of what is termed a "functional solution." The aim of this "solution" is to preserve the gains derived from the occupation - military bases, settlements, and economic domination while passing the burdens of police and civil administration to the local inhabitants, or, in part to Jordan. In this manner, Israel's interests would be preserved in the best possible way and Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would acquire permanent defacto legitimacy. The two areas would remain open to Jewish settlement, which it is hoped will intensify with time. More Jewish immigrants will be brought in and settled in these areas, so that the Jews will become a majority there, if Minister Ariel Sharon's dreams come true. These areas would also turn into a market for Israeli goods and a base for economic penetration of the Arab world through a policy of "open doors" (advantageous to Israel, but not to the economically less developed West Bank: in the face of Israeli competition and the lack of the fiscal right of protection of its own nascent industries, the area would be incapable of establishing its own local economy). The sole economic functions of the area would be to supply Israel with a cheap labour force and be a market for Israeli goods. With time, the economic neglect, subject to Israeli military domination, of these areas would be such that educated Palestinians would find no means for work or livelihood and would gradually be forced to emigrate to the Arab countries, a pattern which has already been visible since 1967.

 

In sum, Menahem Begin's "functional" solution, represented in the granting of "autonomy" to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, under Israel's military and economic domination, resembles the Bantustans of South Africa.

 

To complete this picture of the "solution," Palestinians residing in the Arab states or in any other place in the world would have to settle where they were, whether the host countries were able to receive them or not. The PLO would be ignored.

 

When one hears Sadat speaking of the "genuine Palestinians," or Carter of "moderate Palestinians,"' or Begin of "real representatives of the Arabs of Eretz Israel," one cannot exclude the possibility of all these parties arriving at some agreement amongst themselves in accordance with the policies outlined above.

 

AT THE CROSS ROADS

 

Despite the hazards of prediction, it is possible to envisage a variety of scenarios resulting from the direct Egyptian -Israeli negotiations which began after Sadat's trip to Jerusalem.

 

1. A Comprehensive Settlement

 

The first of these scenarios is one of continued negotiations between the two sides until success is achieved from the official Egyptian viewpoint. This would require an understanding between Egypt and Israel respecting all, or at least most, outstanding problems in a manner permitting the reconvening of the Geneva Conference with the participation of all parties concerned, in order to establish a just and permanent peace in the Middle East. This possibility, however, is unlikely because of the principles and objectives of Israeli policy. Separate negotiations with each Arab state, especially if Egypt were to commence this process, has been Israel's principal objective for a long time. Israel has not forgotten the successful experience of signing the armistice agreements with the Arab states in 1949, when Egypt was the first to do so, followed by Jordan, Lebanon and, finally, Syria. Singling Egypt out to begin with and getting her to sign some sort of agreement with Israel would improve the Israeli negotiating position immeasurably vis-a-vis its other neighbours. As for US pressure, Israel has no problems: indeed, it seems that the Carter administration, instead of applying pressure on Israel, as some Arabs were expecting it to do, is now itself being pressured by Israel. Accordingly, there are no grounds now for Egyptian optimism as regards the role of direct talks in preparing for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference. In fact, it appears that the idea of holding a peace conference in Geneva, as it has been understood until now, has become unrealistic.

 

2. Failure and Shift in Sadat's Policy

 

The first scenario is therefore unlikely. The second is that the conference will fail, leading to a reaction in Egypt which would bring about an Egyptian withdrawal from the talks, an end to negotiations with Israel and a resort to force in order to solve the dispute. This is possible because of at least one variable: Sadat's volatile politics. During his 59 years, he has veered from one political camp to another. At one time he admired the fascists and sympathized with the Nazis. He was also close to the Muslim Brotherhood. He joined the Free Officers and became a principal supporter of Nasser. Later, he decided to befriend the Americans, and now Menahem Begin. In short, Sadat may radically change his policy towards Israel. If this happens, it is to be expected that he will accomplish the change in an extreme manner. In support of this possibility is the fact that the Egyptian army, despite the reduction in its forces, is proceeding with its build-up policy, and Sadat is trying to obtain various weapons from diverse sources. However, one cannot wager too heavily on the possibility of such a radical change because it is doubtful whether the Egyptian nouveaux riches who have recently come to power and are the backbone of the Sadat regime are ready to stake their interests and privileges on the pursuit of a policy of armed struggle unless Sadat is ready to "cut them to pieces," as he did with his former opponents. But this would be no easy matter.

 

3. Continued Negotiations and Separate Agreements

 

Another path would be for Sadat to continue negotiations with Israel, if only to save face. In such a case, it is expected that Israel would offer conditions that would convince Sadat that the possibility of finding a solution for the Palestinians or Syria is extremely difficult. Alternatively, Israel might make proposals about these two subjects which are unacceptable, leaving him no alternative but to conclude a separate peace agreement. But a separate peace agreement with Israel is a difficult undertaking, if not impossible, for any Arab state, in view of the serious repercussions that would result. Were Egypt to sign such an agreement, the Arab world would automatically split into three blocs, one standing with Egypt or at least offering tacit approval and consisting of two or three states, while the majority would be divided into a neutral bloc and a bloc that is violently opposed to Sadat. The opponents may then classify Egypt as an enemy country and impose an economic boycott against it. It seems that there are at present at least five Arab states who would not hesitate to take such a step: Algeria, Libya, Syria, Iraq and South Yemen, in addition to the Palestinians. This would then lead to the expulsion of several hundred thousand Egyptian citizens living and working in these countries and denial of entry to any Egyptian citizen.

 

Egypt, relative to the other Arab countries, is heavily populated but poor and lacking in resources. Such measures would thus cause Egypt a great deal of harm. Signing a separate peace with Israel and the abandonment of the Arab and Palestinian causes would be seen by many, both inside and outside Egypt, as a clear act of treachery, leading to violent reactions which can hardly be withstood by any Arab head of state or regime. Therefore it appears that any Israeli hopes of concluding a separate peace agreement with Egypt by ignoring the other Arabs may be misplaced. Hence the most that separate Egyptian - Israeli negotiations can achieve are partial agreements, which may well be quite comprehensive and drafted in the form of memoranda of mutual understanding or protocols or unsigned agreements which do not add up to total peace.

 

THE EASTERN ARAB FRONT: OPTIONS AND CAPACITIES

 

Whatever the results of bilateral Egyptian-Israeli negotiations, it is clear that the Arab world has split and polarization has taken place as a result of these negotiations. A "National Front" has been formed which has officially undertaken the task of frustrating the results of this new change in Egyptian policy. The core of this Front is now Syria and the PLO, supported by Algeria, Libya and South Yemen. The major cause behind the rise of this Front is fear of the possibility of Sadat's and Egypt's abandonment of their commitment to Arab causes, thus leaving Syria and the PLO alone to face their destiny, and a possible Israeli strike against them. Nor is the fear misplaced, since even after Begin decided to submit a peace proposal in talks with Sadat, it could be observed that he did not bother to mention any withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, while his proposals regarding the Palestinians amounted to the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan on the West Bank and Gaza, ignoring the two million Palestinians living outside occupied territory in a manner which suggests that they will just have to disappear from the scene.

 

The long-term "ideological" objectives behind the creation of this Front are very far-reaching; they point to an almost complete process of reassessment of the procedures to be followed in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as a reassessment of policy regarding the US. It is to be noted that the US was a big loser as a result of Sadat's visit to Israel at the level of public opinion in many parts of the Arab world. Official communiques issued by National Front states both singly and collectively [42] have openly attacked "American imperialism," blaming the USA for a policy of weakening and dividing Arab ranks and for driving Sadat towards Israel even if the US administration was not directly responsible for that visit or was hesitant in supporting it immediately after it had taken place.

 

After Sadat's trip, the US undoubtedly lost a great deal of goodwill towards it among many Arabs, officials and non-officials alike, which had accumulated in recent months, especially during the early months of the Carter administration. The position of America's Arab friends has also been shaken. In the last five years, "America's Arabs," to use a phrase coined by the Rejectionists, had done much to improve the image of their ally in the Arab world, attempting to convince other Arab countries that if they were to "modify" their stand only a little and to "understand" the Americans, the latter would respond and adopt a "balanced" attitude to the Arab-Israeli conflict. A solution would thus be achieved which would not require further sacrifice and bloodshed but would ensure everyone's rights. The Arabs, the Palestinians and the Israelis would all be satisfied and peace and prosperity would descend upon the entire region. The first to respond to this argument were the Syrians, followed by the Palestinians, who, while not ready to give the Americans their total confidence, showed a willingness to cooperate with them. Now, however, they and many other Arabs besides are reassessing their policies.

 

This new reassessment amounts to identifying the US approach as a classical imperialist policy, pure and simple, whose strategic objective is domination of the Middle East in general and of the Arab world in particular, together with the subjugation of its peoples and direct exploitation of its natural resources, so that they can be used in the interests of the US Armed force will be applied, if necessary, to achieve these American aims. America is not as much concerned with solving the Arab-Israeli conflict as with the fact that such a solution should first and foremost accord with its own imperialist interests. If such a solution proves difficult, then there would be no objection to keeping the conflict alive while supporting America's principal allies in the region.

 

The US currently showers massive military and economic aid upon Israel "from the loaf of bread to the cannon, "to use the phrase of President Sadat. If this aid were to stop, Israel would hardly have the money it needs even to feed its own population. Matters do not stop at this point. More than one US official has stated that this aid will not be used to bring pressure on Israel to convince it to accept the Arab point of view, or even to accept the US viewpoint. It appears that America does not want to, or cannot, apply pressure to Israel because of the nature of the various parties that affect US decision making. There are two sides to this coin: the fact that the US does not apply pressure upon Israel and continues to supply it with economic, military and political aid also means, specifically, continued pressure on the Arabs. To add insult to injury, and to exacerbate emotions still further, America's ability to supply massive aid to Israel is also one byproduct of America's continued exploitation of Arab natural resources, especially oil, which is turned into billions of dollars and deposited in US banks. Part of this money may also be used to finance the US war industry, part of which is supplied to Israel to be used thereafter against the Arabs. Part may also be used to pay Israel in the form of economic aid. In sum, it appears that the USA can do only one thing in the Arab-Israeli conflict: continue to supply military and economic aid to Israel.

 

Accordingly, it is not surprising that Israel should continue to grow more intransigent. Today, it does not merely demand dejure recognition by the Arabs and equality of treatment. It also wants a contractual peace which eradicates the political existence of the Palestinians as expressed in their right to statehood. Once the Arabs came to the point of accepting the expropriation of part of their territories by Israel, they would further be required to help the Israeli economy in the future, by permitting Israelis to work in the Arab countries in order to ensure their economic well-being. It seems that Sadat himself will before long come to perceive the reality of this. It is obvious that attempts by certain Arabs to reach an "understanding" or to engage in a "dialogue" with states (Israel and the US) whose policies are founded upon such premises are naive. There is apparently only one way of dealing with such policies and of containing their dangers: to resist them.

 

Dealing with Israeli and US policies firmly and decisively is not merely a verbal exercise. It must lead to a reassessment of earlier stands and the adoption of completely new policies. In this perspective, the attempt by Sadat's Egypt to withdraw from the arena of conflict with the Zionists and the imperialists places the Arab East, i.e., the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and behind them Iraq and the Arabian peninsula, face to face with new historic responsibilities. Such an eventuality may not, in the end, be as harmful to Arab interests as it might seem to be at first glance. Egypt has always, even during Nasser's regime, provided a faulty leadership for the Arab world, and this new change may constitute an incentive to look for an alternative Arab cornerstone. Any threat by Israel and the US to the Arab East - and since Begin's idea of Eretz Israel goes well into this area, this is no irrational fear on the Arabs' part - may lead to the rise of a united Eastern Front to oppose it, especially since the potentialities for the rise of such a front already exist. The Arab East constitutes a geographical, historical and cultural unit which includes 30 million Arabs, who have attained a standard of progress and knowledge that is sufficient to enable them to face a real challenge. This region is sufficiently large and full of natural resources and fertile soil, to constitute a firm base of opposition to imperialist ambitions.

 

From following news of the measures so far adopted to create an Eastern Front since Sadat's visit to Begin, it seems a feasible proposition. Syria and the PLO have announced that they are the core of this Front, and both sides appear to be serious about this. The Palestinians have realized that there is no need for them to quarrel about support for a political solution or the creation of an independent Palestinian state, since it has become clear to them that their problem is still where it was: to be or not to be. The Syrians have realized that Kissinger deceived them by his hints that he was not opposed to the dreams of some quarters about creating a Greater Syria, should they "domesticate" the PLO. It has also become clear to them that Carter is a weak and vacillating man, easily intimidated by the Zionist lobby and its allies, and from whom it would be rash to expect any good. It is also expected that the Syrian faction of the Ba'th Party will effect a reconciliation among its various wings and restore men who were pushed out in earlier coups to political life, thus strengthening the party's base. If this takes place, we can expect a return to the atmosphere of cooperation that once existed between the Palestinians and the Syrians, especially during the period 1965-1970, to the mutual benefit of both parties. In such a case, it may not be difficult to convince Iraq to join such a Front, which would flank both Jordan and Lebanon once it was formed. This front would receive the political support of South Yemen, Algeria and Libya, and economic aid from the last two; political and military aid from the Soviet Union, which would be an important factor of strength for it, would be almost certain.

 

It is clear that such a front, if it comes into being, will deal with proposed solutions for the Middle East conflict and the establishment of permanent peace through reliance on Arab strength. It may develop Arab nuclear weapons of various kinds in addition to improving the fighting capability of conventional weapons. The use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is not inevitable. But the news published about Israeli activities in this regard suggests that Israel either possesses or is about to possess nuclear weapons. This has provoked a "whisper campaign" in the Arab world about the need to be prepared for such eventualities and to manufacture Arab nuclear weapons to face Israel's own. Such possibilities now seem to be in the process of being seriously debated. It is clear that, were the catastrophe of a nuclear war in the Middle East, which any sane person wants to avoid, to take place, Israel could inflict massive losses upon the Arab world. But it is also clear that Israel itself is in much greater danger of almost total extinction, since about half the population lives in an extremely narrow space, most of which stretches along the coast for a distance of 150 kilometres, and is a sitting target for nuclear attack. The mere possession by the Eastern Front of nuclear weapons could have a sobering effect upon the Israelis and induce a more realistic policy. With stakes so high, the Israelis would face a situation from which neither the Sixth Fleet nor the US Congress nor any Zionist lobby could protect them. The coming into being of a nuclear balance of terror may in the end lead both sides to rely upon conventional weapons. In this regard, the Arabs possess vast resources in men and material which cannot be matched by Israel. It may also be noted that the Eastern Front is very close to the heart of Israel, i. e., to the populous areas in the north and centre, and there is no Sinai desert intervening, as is the case with Egypt. Accordingly, any attack directed from the Eastern Front would be painful to Israel.

 

On the level of foreign policy, this Front would be expected to strengthen its ties with the- Soviet Union, establishing close cooperation in the field of long-term strategic planning which could lead to the contracting of an alliance, even if unwritten, between them. The PLO and Syria, for instance, have good relations with the Soviets, to the mutual benefit of both. They have not, however, severed their links with others, leaving the door open before them and before any just solution to the problems of the Middle East, in conjunction with and in agreement with all other parties, i.e., the states and nations of the Middle East, as well as the two superpowers. This, however, is not what Begin, Sadat or their American allies are moving towards. Their policy is to weaken the links of other Arabs with the Soviets and to "expel" them from the region, to use Kissinger's words, bringing it under the domination of the Carter-Begin-Sadat "alliance."

 

The question is, what will the Soviet position be regarding these developments? It is true that the Soviets have gone a long way on the road to international detente, with many of their interests being adversely affected in more than one region. It is also true that their current leadership lacks, in the words of the PLO founder, "the genius of Lenin, the brutality of Stalin and the dynamism of Khrushchev." [43] But what is now being planned in the area is of great danger to them and it appears that the ultimate aim is to create a bloc hostile to the Soviet Union, stretching from Iran and Turkey to include the whole of the Arab East all the way to the horn of Africa. Thus, an Eastern Front alliance may be expected to meet with Soviet support, since each side has something to offer the other. The Soviets will be expected to help their allies militarily by providing weapons and technology and helping them to develop the economies of their countries. In return, they would obtain close economic cooperation, political influence and the permanent friendship of peoples who control important strategic areas of the world.

 

The Zionist lobby in the US, as well as its extreme cold warrior supporters, are firmly opposed to the idea of establishing a Palestinian state, alleging that it will become a Soviet base. [44] (This, of course, is not the view of Palestinians, or neutral observers. ) This lobby also opposes international detente. Their view seems, in one way or another, to have attained a grip over the US administration. Such being the case, and since anti-Soviet hostility is the cover behind which the expansionist and anti-Palestinian Zionist lobby conceals its own local aspirations, the Arab East may well face a situation where, out of self-defense, it has no alternative but to actualize these "fears" and to create an Eastern Arab-Soviet alliance to oppose an expansionist Israel.

 

On the level of realignment in international affairs, there may also be a change in the stand of the Arab East towards Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc countries as well as Japan. These countries possess technology, and it is in the Arab interest to deepen economic and political ties with them. Conversely, gradual obstacles would be placed upon economic dealings with the Americans in a manner that would diminish their profits from economic deals with the Arabs and thus confine the extent of their political influence. Western Europe and Japan, for instance, are the major importers of Arab oil and of other raw materials. They have attained a technological and scientific level that can satisfy Arab needs to enable them to develop their own resources and to dispense with the US. Such countries will undoubtedly be tempted to increase economic dealings with the Arabs in exchange for the military and technological requests which the Arab world would make of them. One view commonly expressed now in the Arab world is that the Americans should be given the same treatment once given to France and Britain, when they were the imperial powers in the Arab world. They only changed their policy, and began to deal with the Arabs on terms of equality, after they had been expelled from certain Arab countries and were forced to leave others. This too, it is argued, should happen to the Americans. Gradually, the view is gaining ground in several Arab countries that the basic prerequisite for a just and permanent peace in the Middle East, which enables all peoples of the region to live in peace, is to have a weak Israel vis-a-vis the Arabs and a receding American imperialist influence moving towards extinction.

 

In spite of all this, a major question remains. What would happen if Israel submits proposals acceptable to all its Arab neighbours, provided these states forsake the Palestinians in general, and the PLO in particular, and accept, even implicitly, Israel's policy regarding the Palestinians? This is no doubt a possibility that titillates the imagination of Israeli policy makers, who hope that in such a case a number of Arab states would proceed to liquidate the PLO in order to remove the obstacles on the way to a "solution" of the Palestinian problem, as envisaged by Israel. This possibility, while practically very difficult, since there will always be more than one Arab state ready to help the PLO, may lead to a situation where the PLO is forbidden to take any action in states bordering upon Israel, or at least is constricted in doing so.

 

In this case, the leadership of the PLO would be expected to move to one Arab country from where it can carry on its political activity. Any well- known Palestinian personality could move there. Alternatively, the leadership could disperse among various countries. The rest of the resistance would go underground, acting against the principal pro-Israeli regimes as well as imperialist economic interests in the Arab world, in addition to resisting the Israelis and their occupation. An underground movement on these lines could not, of course, operate with ease for it would be opposed by the combined might of many Arab police and repression agencies, whose strength and training cannot be underestimated. But one must also not underestimate the capabilities and the motivations of the other side. The forces included under the PLO, led by Fateh, which have for the past twenty years been constantly organizing and training, did in fact come into existence in circumstances when a number of Arab states were opposed to them. They have wide experience of this sort of activity, and their efficacy must not be underestimated. If a drive towards eliminating the Palestinian presence became official Arab policy, this would leave the Palestinians and their sympathizers no alternative but to act with the utmost ruthlessness against these regimes. No doubt a number of Palestinian supporters in the various Arab countries would also join such an underground movement.

 

If such an eventuality does come to pass and the activity of this underground movement increases in strength, the repression from Arab regimes will increase in such a manner as to antagonize all the democratic forces in the Arab world, especially in the East, threatening their relative freedom and perhaps their very existence. It will not be long before a broad front of Palestinians, progressives, liberals, radicals, leftists, socialists, Marxists, Nasserists and other opposition movements will come into being. The object of such a front will assuredly be not only to work for a just peace in the Middle East or to create a Palestinian state, but to help create conditions that would prepare for the rise of a new social, economic and political order in the Arab world where imperialism would not enjoy much influence. Preparing for this may take a long time but one thing is clear already: there will be no stability in the Arab East nor will imperialist, especially the highly vulnerable American imperialist, interests be safe.

 

It could require a capitulationist peace settlement, in which the right of the Palestinians to a homeland and state of their own was denied, for these forces to be set in motion. It is still too early to predict what will happen. But whatever one may think of Sadat's recent moves, it is clear that by visiting Israel, he exploded all existing assumptions on the Arab-Israeli conflict and created a situation in which the fundamental issues have all been forced to the surface. Everyone now, it appears, is at the crossroads awaiting future developments.

 

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Sabri Jiryis heads the Israel section of the PLO Research Center in Beirut. A graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he is the author of The Arabs in Israel, Democratic Freedoms in Israel and Part I of the Arabic work Tarikh al-Sabyuniya (A History of Zionism). 

1 AI-SafJr (Beirut), November 18, 1977. 

2 In an interview with al-Mustaqbal magazine (Paris), December 2, 1977.

3 The text is in al-Safir, November 25, 1977. 

4 Text in Filastin al- Thawra (Beirut), November 18, 1977.

5 Text in ibid., November 19, 1977. 

6 Text in al-Safir, November 24, 1977. 

7 Text in al-Safir, November 19, 1977.

8 Taken from al-Nahar (Beirut), November 20, 1977. 

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Text of Party statement in ibid., November 29, 1977.

12 Text in ibid., November 19, 1977. 

13 Al-Safir, November 28, 1977.

14 Ibid.

15 Al-Dustour (Amman), November 18, 1977. 

16 See Sadat's interview with October magazine (Cairo), December 18, 1977.

17 Quoted from the text of the communique issued by the Conference and published in Filastin al- Thawra, December 9, 1977.

18 Ibid. 

19 Ibid.

20 The text is in al-Safir, December 6, 1977. 

21 Text in al-Safir, November 30, 1977. 

22 The text of the speech is in al-Ahram (Cairo), November 27, 1977. 

23 See, for example, details in David Yisraeli, Hareich Hashlishi Veeret. Israel (The Third Reich and the Land of Israel), Tel Aviv: Bar-Ilan University, 1974, pp. 122-151 (Hebrew); and Klaus Polkehn, "The Secret Contacts Zionist-Na7i Relations, 1933-1941," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. V, Nos. 3 4 (Spring-Summer, 1976), pp. 54-82.

24 Polkehn, op.cit., p. 74. The documents referred to are in the Records of the Reich Leader of the SS and Chief of German Police, RFSS film roll 411, frames 2936012, and 2936069. 

25 See, for example, David Niv, Maarakhot Hairgun Ha.z'az Haleumi (History of the National Military Organi7ation [Irgun]), Tel Aviv: Klausner Institute, 1967, Vol. 3, pp. 171-179 (Hebrew), and Polkehn, op.cit.

26 Taldot Melchemit Hakoumamyout (History of the War of Independence), prepared by the History Section of the Israeli General Staff (Tel Aviv: Maarakhot, 1968), 17th Impression, p. 117 (Hebrew). 

27 See interview with Fahmy in al-Mustaqbal magazine, December 2, 1977, and Sadat's remarks to October magazine, December 18, 1977. 

28 In the interview with al-Mustaqbal, December 12, 1977.

29 According to Hani al-Hassan, Arafat's political counsellor, reported in al-Safir, November 21, 1977.

30 Al-Abram, November 10, 1977.

31 Ibid. 

32 The text of the sermon is in al-Safir, November 21, 1977. 

33 Al- Thawra al- Mustammara (Beirut), November 29, 1977. 

34 Quoted by The Times (London), March 18, 1977.

35 Al-Safir, September 14, 1977.

36 The text of the declaration is in the Jerusalem Post, October 2, 1977.

37 Al-Nahar, October 2, 1977.

38 Ibid. 

39 Jerusalem Post, October 5, 1977.

40 Ibid., October 6, 1977. 

41 The text of the US-Israeli working paper as revealed by Dayan to the Knesset in ibid., October 14, 1977. 

42 See, e.g., the Syrian government'statement in al-Safir, November 18, 1977, the joint Syrian-Palestinian communique in al-Safir, November 24, 1977, and the statement issued by the /Tripoli Summit in Filastin al- Thawra, December 9, 1977. 

43 Ahmad Shuqairy, al-Ha.ima al-Kubra (The Great Defeat), Vol 1 (Beirut, Dar al-'Awda), p. 111.

44 See, e.g., the statement by Rabbi Schindler, following the signature of the US-Israeli working paper as reported in the Jerusalem Post, October 6, 1977.