The following is an edited, unofficial text of Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin's response to Egyptian President Sadat's speech.
Mr. President of Egypt, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Knesset.
Our blessing is sent to the president and to all members of the Islamic faith, in our land and everywhere on the occasion of this special holiday of the sacrifice. . . .
The time of the flight between Cairo and Jerusalem is short. But the distance between them was, until yesterday, quite large.
President Sadat traveled this great distance with courage, heart-felt courage. We, the Jews, know how to appreciate this courage of heart. . . .
Mr. Chairman, this small nation, the remnants of the destruction of the Jewish nation, that has returned to our historic homeland, always wanted peace.
And when we thought of our redemption, and independence arose, on the 15th of May, 1948, with the proclamation of independence and our state of independence, Mr. Ben Gurion said:
"We stretch out a hand of peace to our neighbors and to all the nations that are our neighbors and to the English, and call upon them to cooperate to joint mutual cooperation, with the independent Jewish nation in our land.
"A year before that, in the days of the underground, when we stood in the battle for the redemption of the country and of the nation, we showed our neighbor [that] in this land we shall live together and we shall progress together. For lives of freedom and wealth, Arab neighbors, don't turn down this hand that is stretched to you in peace."
But it is my obligation Mr. Chairman to declare today, according to the truth, or hand that was stretched out for peace was not accepted.
One day after the arrival of our independence, according to our right that cannot be denied or cannot be discussed, we were attacked on three fronts.
With the help of the Lord, we succeeded in overcoming the attacking forces and we guaranteed the independence of our nation, not only for this generation but also for coming generations.
We do not believe in might. We believe in right - only in right. Therefore, our hope from the depths of our heart, from then to this very day, is for peace.
All of us are united in this one hope and longing to have peace, peace for our nation that has not known peace even one day from the time we started to come back to Zion.
And peace for our neighbors, for we wish them all good and we believe that if we do make peace - a true peace - we shall be able to help one another in order to enrich life and to open a new epic period in the history of the Middle East - a period of growth - as it was in days of old.
Therefore permit me today to indicate what is the schedule for peace according to our understanding.
We seek peace, a full peace, true peace, with true reconciliation between the Jewish nation and the Arab nation.
First . . . in the schedule of peace on the ending of the state of war. I agree, Mr. President, that you didn't come and we didn't invite you in order . . . to establish a treaty with the Arab nations.
Israel does not wish to rule and does not want to disturb or divide. We are looking for peace with all our neighbors, with Egypt, with Jordon, with Syria, with Lebanon.
We wish to have negotiations for a peace treaty . . .
And there is no reason to distinguish between a treaty of peace and end of belligerency . . . the first paragraph in a peace treaty is the cessation of hostilities.
We wish to establish normal relations between us as they exist between all teh nations even after many wars . . .
Today, two flags are flying to Jerusalem, the Egyptian flag and the Israeli flag. We saw together, Mr. President, the small children who were carrying both flags.
Let us sign a treaty of peace and establish such conditions forever both in Jerusalem and in Cairo.
And you, Mr. President, will have an ambassador in our capitol and we will have an ambassador in Cairo. We will even have differences between us [but] we will discuss them like civilized nations through our accredited representatives.
We propose joint economic cooperaton to develop our countries. In the Middle East there are many wonderful countries. The Lord so created them. There are oases and deserts, and it possible to change the deserts. Let us cooperate together in this area. Let us develop our countries. Let us abolish poverty. Let us raise our nations to a high level of a developed country and let the world not call us developing countries.
With all respect, I am prepared to endorse the words of His Excellency, the King of Morocco, who said publicly that peace will come to the MIddle East: the cooperation of the Arab genius and the Jewish genius together will change this region into a Garden of Eden.
Let us open our countries to free passage. You come to us and we shall visit with you. I am prepared to announce today, Mr. Chairman, that our country is open to all citizens of Egypt. And I do not make this depend on any condition . . . May the visitors be many. Our borders will be open to them, and (similarly) all other borders, in the north and in the south and in the east.
Therefore, I renew my invitation to the president of Syria to follow in your footsteps, Mr. President, to come to us in order to open negotiations on . . . Peace between Israel and Syria and the signing of a peace agreement between them.
I'm sorry to say there is no justification for the poison that comes from our northern border. Let us change and have such visits and such ties . . .
I invite King Hussein, to visit us and to discuss with us all the problems that require discussions between him and us.
And also, legitimate spokesmen of the Palestinian Arabs, I invite them to come and meet with us for discussions on our joint, policies, on justice, on social justice, on peace, on joint mutual respect.
If they invite us to come to their capitols, we shall answer their invitations. If they invite (us) to open negotiations in Demascus and in Amman and in Beirut, in any one of these capitals, we shall go to any of these capitols to talk with them . . .
Mr. Chairman, it is my obligation today to tell our guest and . . . all those nations who are watching and listening to us today of . . . the ties between our Jewish nation and this land. The President referred to the Balfour Declaration: No . . . Mr. President, we did not take others' land, we returned to our homeland. The tie between our nation and this land is eternal.
Here we became a nation. Here we established our kingdoms. When we were exiled from our land because (by) force, and when we were thrust far from our land, we never forget this land even for one day.We prayed for her. We longed for her.
We believed in our return . . . (and) this right was recognised in the Balfour Declaration and was embodied in the League of Nations mandate . . .
What happened to us when our homeland was taken from us?
We went this morning, Mr. President, to Yad Vashem. With your own eyes, you saw what has happened to our nation when this, its homeland, had been taken from it.
We have both agreed, Mr. President, that he who has not seen with his own eyes all that exists in Yad Vashem cannot understand what happened to this nation when it was detached from its homeland.
In those six years, when millions of our people including 1 1/2 million small Jewish children were destroyed, no one came to save them not from the East and not from the West.
Therefore, we have sworn an eternal vow: this entire generation, the generation of destructions and re-births, we shall never again place our nation in such a danger . . .
President Sadat knows, and knew from us before he came to Jerusalem, that we have a different position than his with regard to borders between us and our neighbors.
However, I call to the president of Egypt and to all of our neighbors, do not say that we exclude anything from discussions.
I propose, according to the accepted majority of this Parliament, that everything is open to negotiation . . . No side can say the opposite. No side can offer conditions. It is a pleasure, an honor, to have negotiations if there are differences between us. There is nothing that can be excluded.
He who has learned the history of wars and the history of making peace knows that all negotiations on a peace treaty began with differences between the nations. Through the negotiations, they arrived at an agreement that made it possible to sign treaties of peace. This is the way we propose to go.
Let us conduct the negotiations as equals. There are no victors, there are no losers.
All nations of the region are equal, and each one will have to relate to the others with honor, and to the spirit of openness, of readiness to listen . . . to the facts and to the points and to the explanations.
We are not only prepared to sit with the representatives of Egypt and with the representatives of Jordan and Syria and Lebanon in a peace conference in Geneva, we have suggested that the Geneva Conference be resumed on the basis of the two resolutions of the Security Council - 242 and 338.
If there are differences between us relating to the organization of the Geneva conference, let us discuss and negotiate them today, and tomorrow.
And if the president of Egypt wishes to receive us in Cairo, or in a neutral place, there is no objection. In every place, let us clarify together, even before the reconvening of the Geneva conference, the problems that may be related to the reconvening of this conference.
Our eyes will be open, our ears will be open to listen to every proposal - to every proposal.
Permit me to say a word about Jerusalem. Mr. President, who prayed this morning at the new renovated mosque and then went to the Church of the Holy Sepulere. You realized, that from time immemorial, this is the city that has been joined together. There is full freedom [of movement to and from Jerusalem] for the Moslem world, and for the Christian world and all nations, that forever there shall be free access and travel to holy places.
Mr. Chairman, this is a very special day for our Parliament. Undoubtedly for many years this day will be long remembered in the history of our nation and in the history in the Egyptian nation and perhaps in the history of the various nations of the world.
This day we shall raise a prayer that the God of our fathers, our joint fathers, will give us the wisdom of the heart that is necessary in order to overcome difficulties and pitfalls, to overcome the words of the devil, and the words of evil.
And with the help of the Lord we shall achieve, we shall reach that day for which our entire nation is praying - a day of peace . . . For verily that day, the sweet singer of Israel, King David, wrote about the day when justice and peace embraced and in the words of the prophet Zachariah, peace and justice embraced.