Excerpts from the Speech of H.E. President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat on the Occasion of Inaugurating the Special Session of the Peoples’ Assembly
16th October 1973
Brothers and sisters,
When we talk about peace, neither the others nor we should forget why we went to war. Please allow me to numerate to you those reasons specifically:
First, we have fought for peace. We have fought for the only peace that deserves that name, the peace that is based on justice. Our enemy often speaks of peace. But there is a great difference between the peace of aggression and the peace of justice.
It was David Ben Gurion who formulated the theory of imposing peace, yet peace can not be imposed. Any such talk is a tantamount to the threat of war or the actual waging of it.
Our enemy's great mistake was to think that the power to terrorize [us] could guarantee their security. The fallacy of such a theory was has been proven at present and on the battlefields. It has been proven that if this theory works on a certain occasion it is because of the weakness of others, and that it falls apart once the others gain strength. I do not know what would Ben Gurion think if he was leading Israel today? Would he be able to grasp history, or would he oppose it as does the current Israeli leadership today?
Peace cannot be imposed and de facto peace is unsustainable. Peace rests only on justice, not on terror, no matter how tyrannical nor how illusory the arrogance of naked force is.
This arrogance and foolishness of force was carried to extremes by our enemy, not just in the last six years but ever since Zionism usurped Palestine twenty five years ago. We ask now the Israeli leadership: Where is the Israeli concept of security, that they have tried to establish by force and tyranny for twenty-five years, go? It broke down to shatters.
Our military force today challenges their military force. And here they are in a prolonged war, threatened by attrition which we, unlike them, could withstand.
And here is their depth threatened, if they tried to scare us by threatening the Arab depth.
I may add so that they may hear me in Israel, contrary to their claim, we are not proponents of eradication. Our trans-Sinai Egyptian-Arab missiles (al-Zafer) are in their bases ready to be launched to the depths of Israel.
We were capable from the very first moment in battle to give the orders. Especially that their arrogance gave them false illusions beyond their capability to bear the consequences. But, we do realize the responsibility of using certain kinds of weapons, and we ourselves refrain from using them, though they have to remember what I once said, and now reiterate: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a depth for a depth.”
Second, we did not fight to aggress against other peoples’ territories. We have fought, are fighting and will continue to fight for two reasons:
The first to regain our territories occupied in 1967,
The second to find a way to regain and respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Those are our aims in accepting the dangers of fighting. We have accepted those dangers in answer to intolerable intimidation of which we were not the instigators, in self-defense and the defense of our freedom and our right to liberty and to life.
Our war was never for aggression, but against aggression. In waging war we never transgressed those rules and laws that the community of nations willfully accepted and registered in the United Nations charter that free nations composed with their blood in the aftermath of their victory against nazism and fascism. Indeed, our war is a continuation of this struggle. This is due to the fact that Zionism with its racist assertions, and its logic of brutal expansionism, is but a poor replica of fascism and nazism; one which only induces indignity and scorn, not fear nor hate.
In our war effort, we have been acting according to the letter and spirit of the United Nations charter not in violation of it; and out of regard and respect for the organization’s resolutions, whether those of the General Assembly or the Security Council.
Brother and sisters,
I thought of sending a message to President [Richard] Nixon to articulate our position. But I lest I would be misunderstood, I decided instead to send him an open message from here. A message for which the motive is not empty talk but confidence, is not weakness but a desire to maintain peace and enhance entente. I want to clearly tell him that the quest behind our waging of war is clear and need not be reiterated. If you are not against our peace quest, there is our peace proposal:
First: We have fought, and will continue to fight, to liberate our lands that Israel had occupied in 1967 and to find a way to regain the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and respect thereof. In this context, we accept our abidance by the United Nations [relevant] resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council.
Second: We are prepared to accept a cease fire on the basis of immediate Israeli withdrawal from all occupied land, under international supervision, to the lines prior to June 5th 1967.
Third: We are ready, as soon as withdrawal from all the territories is completed, to attend an international peace conference in the United Nations. I will exert my utmost effort to convince those of my comrades among the Arab leaders who are directly responsible for managing the conflict with our enemy of this conference. I will also try to convince the representatives of the Palestinian people so that they would participate with us and with the international community in setting rules and limitations to achieve a peace based on respect for the legitimate rights of all the peoples of the area.
Fourth: We are ready at this hour, indeed this minute, to start clearing the Suez Canal and to open it for international navigation so that it would resume its role in the interest of world welfare and prosperity. I have already given my orders to the head of the Suez Canal Authority to start this process as soon as the liberation of the eastern bank of the canal is completed. Preparations are already underway.
Fifth: Concerning all the foregoing, we are not ready to accept vague promises or elastic phrases open to all interpretations, which would only waste time to no avail and cause our cause to return to a deadlock we no longer accept, no matter what the other party’s reasons are and no matter what sacrifices we have to offer. What we need now is clarity, clarity in aims and clarity in methods.
Brother and sisters,
We have said our word and I sincerely pray to God that everyone would understand it in the right framework, place it on the right track and that they should correctly assess the situation. This hour requires the braveness of men and their reason. On our part, we face this hour with humbleness to God, to humanity and to ourselves. At this hour, battles are being fought, even greater than those involving the use of traditional weapons between great powers. Also, at this hour, destinies are being determined and relations too, that will force themselves even as they are proving themselves at present. This hour heroes are advancing, and martyrs are falling, nay rising. This hour is where happiness is mixed with other profound feelings. That is because we have always wanted justice and not war. But justice we require even if war is forced upon us. And, while the ecstasy of victory filled all our hearts, I do recognize -between my creator and myself- the extent of human suffering that we pay in return for this victory.