Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin, invoking the name of the Prophet Mohammed and quoting from the Koran, issued an extra-ordinary personal appeal to the people to Egypt yesterday for an "end to war, an end to bloodshed."
Coming only two days after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's startling public offer to go "to the Knesset itself" to negotiate peace with Israel, Begin's plea climaxed a remarkable week in thr history of two nations that have fought four wars in the past 20 years.
Less than an hour after Begin read his handwritten statement to reporters in Jerusalem, Israeli radio's giant transmitters were broadcasting the Prime Minister's appeal in Arabic directly to the Egyptian people, who certainly must be puzzled by the week's new rhetoric of brotherhood and peace.
The atmospherics, however, were somewhat diminished by the growing likehood that the Geneva peace conference will not be reconvened before the end of the year, and by the fact that Israeli warplanes bimbed targets yesterday in southern Lebanon for the second time in three days.
Israel said the latest air raid against targets in the Tyre area of Lebanon was a direct response to a rocket attack by Palestinian guerrillas earlier in the day on the Israeli border town of Yaron.
Palestinians reported that yesterday's Israeli bimbing strike killed or wounded 12 persons. In a far larger raid Wednesday, ordered by Israel in retaliation for a guerilla attack on another border settlement at least 100 persons were reported killed and scores injured.
In Washington, the State Department yesterday reached cautiously to the public exchange between Sadat and Begin.
"We indeed welcome consultation between the parties," declared State Department spokesman Kenneth L. Brown, "but the important thing is that we go on with the process of trying to get to the negotiating table."
U.S. officials feel any signs of improved communication between Israel and Egypt can benefit the atmosphere in the Middle East, but that the Sadat-Begin declarations are no substitute for diplomatic attempts to overcome obstacles to a Geneva peace conference.
Begin's plea for peace appeared designed, at least in part, to bolster the stature of Sadat, who hinted a willingness earlier this week to go to Geneva without the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Addressing the "Citizens of Egypt," Begin declared: "Your president said, two days ago, that he will be ready to come to Jerusalem, to our Parliament - the Knesset - in order to prevent one Egyptian soldier from being wounded. It is a good statement.
"I have already welcomed it, and it will be a pleasure to welcome and receive your president with the traditional hospitality you and we have inherited from our common father, Araham.
"And I, for my part, with of course, be ready to come to your capital, Cairo, for the same purpose: no more wars - peace, a real peace, and forever."
The Egyptian government had not immediate reaction to Begin's appeal, but Washington Post correspondent Thomas W. Lippman reported from Tunis, where Arab diplomats were gathering for an Arab League conference, that many viewed Begin's speech as another cynical effort by Israel to slit Sadat off from the other Arab sountries.
Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Kaddam, in what appeared to be a direct reference to Begin's speech, said,"Arab solidarlity must be directed against the Zionist enemy, who is not directing its aims against one of our countries but against the whole Arab nation."
In Beirut, a spokeman for the PLO dismissed Begin's speech as "nonsense, aimed at deceiving the Egyptian people."
While the Israeli prome minister's message steeped in Biblical allusion, was generally conciliatory, it at times took on the more hawkish tone that so long has characterized Israeli-Arab exchanges.
"We, the Israeli, stretch out our hand to you," Begin said. Then he added, "It is not, as you know, a weak hand."
At another point he recalled that all previous "attempts to destroy tha Jewish state were in vain," and said: "I may tell you, our neighbors, that so it will be in the future."
Begin even cited the Koran as an authority in declaring that Israel's "right to this land was stated and sanctified," and then went on to read the specific passage.
The Israeli leader also reminded the Egyptian people than "in ancient times, Egypt and Eretz Israel were allies , real friends and allies, against a common enemy from the north."
"Perhaps the intrinsic basis for friendship an mutual help remains unaltered," Begin said.
"Let usa not only make peace, let us also start on the road of friendship, sincere and productive cooperation." he said. "We can help each other. We can make the lives of our nations better, easier and happier."
Begin wound up his address by citing "all the great human values that were handed down to you by the Prophet Mohammed and by our prophets -Moses, Joshual, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.
"It is in this human spirit that I say to you with all my heart: Shalom," Begin concluded. "It means sulh (peace). And vice-versa: Sulh means shalom."
Begin told reporters after reading the four-minute statement that he had written it in English "with my own hand" earlier in the day.