Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic 1977 peace mission to Jerusalem was mediated by Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin said in an interview.
In a series of talks in the years 1982-85 with his former media adviser, Dan Pattir, and published Friday in the Hebrew newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Begin recalled the events surrounding Sadat's visit.
In August, 1977, Begin visited Romania as Ceausescu's guest. "I asked him if he could persuade Sadat to come visit us," he told Pattir. In October, Sadat met the Romanian president in Bucharest.
"When Sadat met Ceausescu, he asked his host two questions," Begin said. " 'You've met Begin, so tell me. First, do you think he wants peace? And secondly, is he a strong man?' Ceausescu answered both of Sadat's question in the affirmative."
On Nov. 19, 1977, Sadat arrived in Israel for talks with Israeli leaders that helped to produce the only peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country.
Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Begin resigned as prime minister in 1983 and has since lived as a recluse in his Jerusalem apartment.
On his first impressions of Sadat, Begin told Pattir: "I liked him from the first moment. I immediately told my colleagues: 'This is a very interesting person. He can do good things. He can also do other things. But he has a vision.' "