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National Press Club Luncheon Speakers

Anwar Sadat, February 6, 1978

Image: Anwar al-Sadat with Frank Aukofer
Anwar Sadat with Frank Aukofer, February 1978. National Press Club Archives

To try to break a stalemate in the negotiations between Egypt and Israel that eventually led to their 1979 peace treaty—the first such agreement between Israel and an Arab state—President Jimmy Carter invited Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1918-1981) to his retreat at Camp David, Maryland, over the weekend of February 3-5, 1978. The following Monday, Sadat delivered a speech and answered reporters’ questions at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington. Less than three months earlier, Sadat had embarked on a dramatic, historic visit to Jerusalem in an attempt to break through what he termed a “psychological barrier” that prevented resolution of the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict, “that huge wall of suspicion, fear, hate, and misunderstanding that has for so long existed between Israel and the Arabs,” as he wrote in his autobiography. Disillusioned, however, by what he called the “ridiculous” response of his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sadat, according to Carter’s notes of their Camp David meeting, “informed me that he is going to announce to the National Press Club Monday that [the Egyptians] will discontinue their participation in the military and political talks, that they’ve given Israel everything they possibly could have dreamed of a year ago, that he had 100 million Arabs with him—90 percent of the Arab world.” Carter cautioned that such an action “would be a very serious blow; would make Begin look good and Sadat look like an obstacle to peace.” Carter and his advisers proposed a “secret strategy,” in the words of National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, to break the deadlock. The subsequent Press Club talk reflected Sadat’s revived faith in the peace process.... More [PDF; 236 KB]

Timings (hh:mm:ss)

Introductions: 00:00-07:31
Speech: 07:32-46:06
Q & A: 46:10-01:04:13

Topics of the Talk

  • Relationship between Egypt and Israel Prior to Sadat’s Trip to Israel: 08:39-10:58
  • Sadat’s October 16, 1973, Speech for Ceasefire and Peace: 10:59-14:33
  • Sadat’s 1977 Trip to Israel: 14:36-17:01
  • Lack of Israeli Concessions in Current Peace Talks: 20:20-22:52
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 242: 24:46-28:16
  • Establishment of Palestinian Entity and Israeli Solution for the West Bank: 28:18-30:12
  • Potential U.S. Role in Peace Process between Egypt and Israel: 39:39-42:53
  • Arms Race between Egypt and Israel: 43:30-44:58; 57:30-1:02:03
  • Sadat’s Camp David Meeting with President Jimmy Carter: 46:10-47:54
  • Jerusalem as an International City of Peace: 48:00-49:53
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  October 17, 2016
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