Published May 1980 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Another Dose of Courage The attainment of a comprehensive and enduring peace between Israel and Egypt is fundamental to the security interests of every nation in the Middle East, as well as the United States. Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt's President Anwar Sadat recently visited this nation's capital for another round of consultations with President Carter, and meetings with Congressional leaders, including myself. Both heads of state have demonstrated courage in taking the steps necessary for peace by signing the Camp David Accords of September, 1978. But another dose of courage is needed to achieve the comprehensive peace that is so imperative for the region and the world. The question of Palestinian autonomy is the Gordian knot that must be cut if a comprehensive peace is to be attained. The Camp David Accords call for the establishment of a self-governing authority for Palestinians living on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip. But the Israelis and the Egyptians disagree on the powers to be granted to the self-governing authority. The presence of security forces for Israel, the establishment of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and the status of 100,000 Arab residents of Israeli occupied East Jerusalem are among the stumbling blocks that must be overcome. Resolution of these issues will contribute to the security of all Middle East countries and the United States. The current stalemate over the Palestinian question hinders our nation's ability to foster closer cooperation with Arab countries- cooperation that is becoming increasingly necessary in view of recent events in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Egypt and Israel deserve American support for the peace initiatives taken, and are to be encouraged to take the final steps necessary to complete the accords. Economic and military assistance for both countries contributes to economic stability and security, both of which are foundations of peace. This assistance is an investment in America's own security. I hope the recent talks will accelerate the Middle East peace efforts and provide the basis for an eventual compromise. The momentum of peace must not be lost.