Egyptian President Anwar Sadat left for Israel aboard his presidential yacht today, having declared his hope that the trip will produce a breakthrough on Palestinian self-rule.
The two-day summit conference in the northern port city of Haifa will be the fourth between Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli treaty in March. They last met in Alexandria, Egypt, in July.
Begin said no agenda has been drawn up but Sadat said he intends to bring up the two thorniest issues in the peace negotiations: Palestinian self-government and the future of Jerusalem.
"I am going to Haifa to tell Israel that self-rule must be implemented, to decide on its details," Sadat said Saturday. "I will insist this time with Begin on a solution for the Jerusalem problem."
Haifa has spruced itself up for Sadat, building a welcome arch over one of the main streets and hanging a giant dove with wings depicting the Egyptian and Israeli flags over the entrance to the city of 230,000 -- Israel's third largest.
Meanwhile, Begin sought to dampen speculation about possible talks between Israel and Syria, saying Damascus' attitude was still "completely negative."
Israeli government sources said over the weekend that an envoy from Romanian President Nicolae Ceusescu had brought Begin an offer from Ceausescu to mediate talks among Israel, Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Sunday a chief aide of Begin told the state-run radio that Begin's long-standing offer to meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad "still stands."
But Begin, speaking to visiting members of the Council of Europe's subcommittee on the Middle East, said in Jerusalem today that Syria's attitude is still "completely negative -- not only toward Israel but also toward Egypt."
"Syria berates President Sadat with the most derogatory expressions," Begin said, "and there is no change of heart in Syria about him."