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Multilateral peace talks held in London


Sadat’s surprising peace initiative
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Some people are convinced that Sadat did what he did, at the time that he did it, in order to torpedo our talks. In other words, he realised that the PLO was embarking on this path to peace with Israel and he wanted to nip it in the bud because he wanted to be the one to make peace with Israel and reap the benefits. There might be something to that. At any rate, the Palestinians were convinced of it. When this occurred − Sadat's initiative, and him coming here − it immediately had a tremendous and negative impact throughout the Arab world. It was considered a betrayal by Sadat; if there was to be peace, then it should be a comprehensive peace with the Arab world. Why should he be the only one to jump forward?  And so the decision was taken to boycott Sadat.

Prior to the initiative, Arafat visited Cairo. He was invited to Cairo to mediate between Egypt and Libya. A brawl broke out between Gaddafi and Sadat, and Arafat, one of the leaders of the Arab world who was accepted by everyone, was invited to mediate between Libya and Egypt, which he did successfully, and they made peace.  Then he was invited to be present at a session of the Majlis, the Egyptian parliament.  He sat in the front row, beaming with delight, and thought that now he would be showered with compliments as the man who brought peace, etc and he sat there beaming, and President Sadat rose and made a speech. And in the middle of the speech he said: 'I am going to travel to Israel' − or to Jerusalem − I cannot remember exactly what he said, 'and I think we should make peace with Israel'. And everyone clapped, and Arafat was sitting and clapping and he was photographed clapping, and had not understood what was going on. It was so amazing. It was like the first flight to the moon. It was extraordinary. I think it took him several minutes to understand what was going on and what he had heard, but it was too late because it had already been photographed. Arafat, I think, was in principle not opposed to this initiative; he thought it might be a very good initiative. Then he returned to Beirut and there was general outrage, including from his movement. All of the movements said: 'How could he have agreed?' He quickly withdrew, somehow apologized, but Sartawi was in favour. Sartawi was always pro-Egypt. Anti-Syria and pro-Egypt as opposed to Kaddoumi, who was pro-Syria and anti-Egypt. That's it.


יש אנשים שמשוכנעים שסאדאת עשה מה שהוא עשה, בשעה שהוא עשה, במטרה ברורה לטרפד את המגעים שלנו. דהיינו: הוא ראה שאש"ף עולה על הדרך הזאת של שלום עם ישראל ורצה להחניק את הדבר הזה באיבו, מפני שהוא רצה שהוא יעשה שלום עם ישראל והוא ייקח את הרווחים. וייתכן שיש בזה משהו. על כל פנים, הפלסטינים היו משוכנעים בזה. כשזה קרה, היוזמה של סאדאת, הוא בא הנה, זה מייד גרם לתהודה עצומה ושלילית בכל העולם הערבי. זה נחשב כבגידה של סאדאת שהוא אם כבר שלום אז שלום כולל של העולם הערבי, מה פתאום הוא לבדו קופץ קדימה? והוחלט להחרים את סאדאת. ערב היוזמה ערפאת ביקר בקהיר. הוא הוזמן לקהיר כדי לתווך בין מצרים ולוב. פרצה קטטה בין קדאפי ובין סאדאת. וערפאת, ממנהיגי העולם הערבי, מקובל על כולם, הוזמן לתווך בין לוב ומצרים, וגם עשה את זה והצליח ועשו שולם. ואז הוא הוזמן להיות נוכח בישיבה של המג’לס, הפרלמנט המצרי. יושב בשורה הראשונה, זורח מאושר, וחשב שעכשיו ירעיפו על ראשו קומפלימנטים בתור האיש שהשכין שלום וכו' וכו’. ויושב וזורח, והנשיא סאדאת קם ונואם נאום. ובאמצע הנאום הוא אומר: "אני הולך לסוע לישראל" או לירושלים, אני לא זוכר מה שהוא אמר בדיוק, "ואני חושב שצריך לעשות שלום עם ישראל”. וכולם מוחאים כף, וערפאת יושב, מוחא כף, מצולם מוחא כף, ולא תפס בכלל במה המדובר. זה היה כל כך מדהים. זה כמו הטיסה הראשונה לירח. זה חריג. אני חושב שלקח לו כמה דקות בכלל בשביל להבין מה הוא שמע. אבל זה היה מאוחר מפני שזה כבר צולם. וערפאת אני חושב שהוא גם עקרונית לא התנגד ליוזמה הזאת, הוא חשב שאולי זאת יוזמה טובה מאוד. ואז הוא חזר לביירות וקיבל מרד כללי, כולל בתנועה שלו. כל התנועות: "איך הוא יכול להסכים?" הוא מהר הסתייג, התנצל איכשהו, אבל סרטאווי היה בעד. סרטאווי היה פרו מצרי תמיד. אנטי סורי ופרו מצרי. לעומת קדומי שהיה פרו סורי ואנטי מצרי.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Libya, Egypt, Israel, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat

Duration: 3 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017