Hotovely: Israel Waiting for ‘Palestinian Sadat’
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Tuesday that peace with the Palestinians has not materialised because Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is not a territorial conflict.
Speaking at a Knesset session to mark the 40th anniversary of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Jerusalem, Hotovely said peace was achieved between Israel and Egypt because “Egypt had military ethos – they had history, and they said that the Sinai Peninsula was what stood between us and peace.”
“But,” she continued, “our clash with the Palestinians is not territorial. They have received offer after offer, and rejected them all. No. This is an existential fight – whenever the sides have come close to signing a deal, it has always come back to the same issue: The right of return. 70 years after the the State of Israel was established, Abu Mazen still to find homes for what he calls 7 million “refugees.”
Hotovely said the lack of peace with the Palestinians remains an “open sore,” and that every Israeli leader is a “Menachem Begin.”
She cited former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who was the leader of the parliamentary opposition at the time of the Sadat visit, who said that when it comes to making peace, there is “no opposition. ”
“That,” said Hotovely, “remains true.”
The conference, held in the Knesset auditorium and attended by Hazem Khairat, Egypt’s current ambassador to Israel, Knesset Speaker MK Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein, current and former Knesset members, preceded a special session on the Knesset floor Tuesday afternoon.
Edelstein recalled listening to Sadat’s historic speech to the Knesset on a shortwave radio from his home in the Soviet Union and noted that many Israelis were taken aback by the hardline tone of Sadat’s speech on the Knesset floor. But he said the visit succeeded nonetheless, in large part because of moments that occurred far from the glare of the media.
“Sadat met with Golda Meir, and it was just a conversation between a grandfather and a grandmother, they exchanged presents for their respective grandchildren. Think about that – four years earlier, Sadat had led the army that tried to destroy Israel, and Golda had fought back as hard as possible. But here was a quiet moment. Those moments played a special role in allowing the process to succeed,” Edelstein said.