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Cairo, Egypt Address Before the People's Assembly.

March 10, 1979

I also come before you in the name of God, as a partner with my great and good friend, your President, Anwar al-Sadat, to address the Egyptian people through the Members of this People's Assembly of Egypt.

My heart is full as I stand before you today. I feel admiration for the land of Egypt, and I feel a profound respect for the people of Egypt and for your leader, President Sadat, a man who has reached out his strong hand to alter the very course of history.

And I also feel a deep sense of hope as I consider the future that will unfold before us if we have the will and the faith to bring peace. And we have that will and faith, and we will bring peace.

As a boy, like other schoolchildren all over the world, I studied the civilization of Egypt. In the last few days, I have at last seen the legacy of that great civilization with my own eyes, As a citizen of a very young country, I can only marvel at the 7,000-year heritage of the Egyptian people, whom you represent.

For most of the last 500 years, Egypt suffered under foreign domination. But Egypt has again taken her place among the world's independent countries and has led the resurgence among the Arab people to a prominent place among the nations of the world. I'm very proud of that great achievement on your part.

Tragically, this generation of progress has also been a generation of suffering. Again and again, the energies of the peoples of the Middle East have been drained by the conflicts among you—and especially by the violent confrontations between Arabs and Israelis. Four wars have taken their toll in blood and treasure, in uprooted families, and young lives cut short by death.

Then, 16 months ago, one man, Anwar al-Sadat, rose up and said, "Enough of war." He rose up and said, "Enough of war. It is time for peace."

This extraordinary journey of President Sadat to Jerusalem began the process which has brought me here today. Your President has demonstrated the power of human courage and human vision to create hope where there had been only despair.

The negotiations begun by President Sadat's initiative have been long and arduous. It could not have been otherwise. The issues involved are complex, and they are tangled in a web of strong emotion. But among the people of Egypt and the people of Israel alike, the most powerful emotion is not hostility. It is not hatred. It is a will to peace. And more has been accomplished in 1 year of talking than in 30 years of fighting.

As the peace process has moved forward—sometimes smoothly, more often with pain and difficulty—the Government of Egypt has been represented by able diplomats, fully attuned to Egypt's national interests and continually mindful of Egypt's responsibilities to the rest of the Arab world.

Last September, the course of negotiations took the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Israel to Camp David, in the wooded mountains near the Capital of the United States of America.

Out of our discussion there came two agreements: A framework within which peace between Israel and all her neighbors might be achieved, 'and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people realized-and also an outline for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, in the context of a comprehensive peace for the Middle East.

Those agreements were rooted in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which established the basic equation between an Arab commitment to peace and Israeli withdrawal in the context of security. The treaty which is now being negotiated between Egypt and Israel reflects those principles.

Since the two agreements were signed, we have been working to bring both of them to fruition. The United States has served as a mediator, working to solve problems—not to press either party to accept provisions that are inconsistent with its basic interests.

In these negotiations, a crucial question has involved the relationship between an Egyptian-Israeli treaty and the broader peace envisioned and committed at Camp David. I believe that this body and the people of Egypt deserve to know my thinking on this subject.

When two nations conclude a treaty with one another, they have every right to expect that the terms of that treaty will be carried out faithfully and steadfastly. At the same time, there can be little doubt that the two agreements reached at Camp David—negotiated together and signed together—are related, and that a comprehensive peace remains a common objective.

Just in recent days, both Prime Minister Begin in Washington and President Sadat here in Egypt have again pledged to carry out every commitment made at Camp David.

Both leaders have reaffirmed that they do not want a separate peace between their two nations. Therefore, our current efforts to complete the treaty negotiations represent not the end of a process, but the beginning of one, for a treaty between Egypt and Israel is an indispensable part of a comprehensive peace.

I pledge to you today that I also remain personally committed to move on to negotiations concerning the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and other issues of concern to the Palestinians and also to future negotiations between Israel and all her neighbors. I feel a personal obligation in this regard.

Only the path of negotiation and accommodation can lead to the fulfillment of the hopes of the Palestinian people for peaceful self-expression. The negotiations proposed in the Camp David agreements will provide them with an opportunity to participate in the determination of their own future. We urge representative Palestinians to take part in these negotiations.

We are ready to work with any who are willing to talk peace. Those who attack these efforts are opposing the only realistic prospect that can bring real peace to the Middle East.

Let no one be deceived. The effect of their warlike slogans and their rhetoric is to make them in reality advocates of the status quo, not change; advocates of war, not peace; advocates of further suffering, not of achieving the human dignity to which long-suffering people of this region are entitled.

There is simply no workable alternative to the course that your nation and my nation are now following together. The conclusion of a treaty between Israel and Egypt will enable your government to mobilize its resources not for war, but for the provision of a better life for every Egyptian.

I know how deeply President Sadat is committed to that quest. And I believe its achievement will ultimately be his greatest legacy to the people he serves so well.

My government, for its part, the full power and influence of the United States of America, is ready to share that burden of that commitment with you. These gains which we envision will not come quickly or easily, but they will come.

The conclusion of the peace treaty that we are discussing will strengthen cooperation between Egypt and the United States in other ways. I fully share and will support President Sadat's belief that stability must be maintained in this part of the world, even while constructive change is actively encouraged. He and I recognize that the security of this vital region is being challenged. I applaud his determination to meet that challenge, and my government will stand with him.

Our policy is that each nation should have the ability to defend itself, so that it does not have to depend on external alliances for its own security. The United States does not seek a special position for itself.

If we are successful in our efforts to conclude a comprehensive peace, it will be presented, obviously, each element of it, to this body for ratification.

It is in the nature of negotiation that no treaty can be ideal or perfect from either the Egyptian or the Israeli point of view. The question we've faced all along, however, is not whether the treaty we negotiate will meet all the immediate desires of each of the two parties, but whether it will protect the vital interests of both and further the cause of peace for all the states and all the peoples of this region. That is the basic purpose and the most difficult question which we are resolved to answer.

Such a treaty, such an agreement, is within our grasp. Let us seize this opportunity while we have it.

We who are engaged in this great work, the work of peace, are of varied religious faiths. Some of us are Moslems; some are Jews; some are Christians. The forms of our faith are different. We worship the same God. And the message of Providence has always been the same.

I would like to quote the words of the Holy Koran: "If thine adversary incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace and trust in God, for he is the one that heareth and knoweth all things."

Now I would like to quote from the words of the Old Testament: "Depart from evil and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."

And now I would like to quote from the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

My friends, my brothers, let us complete the work before us. Let us find peace together.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m.

Following his address, the President hosted a luncheon for President Sadat at the Mena House in Giza.

Jimmy Carter, Cairo, Egypt Address Before the People's Assembly. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248984

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