OPHIRA, Israeli-occupied Sinai -- Meeting to discuss the Lebanese missile crisis, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin Thursday blamed Syria for the 'tragedy' in Lebanon but agreed to give the United States more time to avert war in the region.
Begin, however, rejected the Egyptian leader's plea to suspend Israeli raids on Palestinian bases in Lebanon.
Speakings to reporters after a 90-minute summit at a restaurant in this sleepy desert town overlooking the Red Sea, both leaders agreed that whatever happens in the Lebanese missile crisis, Egypt and Israel will not go to war over it.
'The decision between war and peace on the Arab side is in the hands of Egypt, on the Israeli side in the hands of Israel,' Sadat said. 'We have pledged together that the (1973) October war will be the last war. We agreed upon this today,' he said after his 10th summit with Begin since 1977.
'We made important agreements, we reached serious solutions,' said Begin, declining to disclose them. He added he would meet Sadat again in Alexandria, Egypt, next month if he wins the June 30 elections.
In Washington, the White House announced Sadat will visit Aug. 5-6 and Israel's prime minister will follow in September. Begin is being challaneged in elections June 30 by Labor Party leader Shimon Peres.
A fanfare of trumpets, fluttering Egyptian and Israeli flags and a warm embrace from Begin greeted the Egyptian leader as he emerged from his plane at the former Egyptian naval base of Sharm el Sheikh and stepped into the fierce desert sun at the tip of the Sinai peninsula.
Hundreds of Jewish settlers from Ophira gave Sadat a noisy sendoff, chanting and jeering to protest the town's return to Egypt next April as part of the 1978 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. 'Ophira is ours ... We won't leave,' they shouted.
Earlier, Sadat met with some of the settlers but gave no specific answer to their reuqest for permission to remain in Ophira after it reverts to Egypt.
The summit and a working lunch -- at an ex-discotheque converted into a small restaurant named the White House -- was the 10th encounter between Begin and Sadat since the Egyptian leader's historic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.
Sadat said he asked Begin to suspend Israeli raids against Palestinian guerrillas in Lebanon, seen as one way of making it easier for Syria to withdraw the anti-aircraft missiles it began installing in Lebanon last month after Israeli jetfighters shot down two Syrian helicopters over the Bekaa Valley.
He said he also asked Begin to give U.S. mediator Philip Habib -- who returns to the Mideast Friday -- 'ample time' to resolve the crisis before carrying through with his threat to destroy the Syrian missiles.
Begin, seated next to Sadat at a small table flanked by the Egyptian and Israeli flags, replied he would give Habib 'ample time' to seek a peaceful solution but would not suspend the pre-emptive raids, which he called 'a legitimate act of self-defense in the highest moral sense.'
Both leaders condemned Syria's role in Lebanon and emphasized their determination -- in Sadat's words -- 'not to let the Soviet Union fish in the troubled waters of the region.'
In one of his harshest attacks against Syrian President Hafez Assad, Sadat accused the Syrian leader of using the Lebanese conflict as an excuse to divert attention from problems at home.
'I think the whole tragedy (was) started in 1975 by President Assad,' Sadat said, referring to the start of the Lebanese civil war. 'Now we are living the tragedy in the area.
'The Syrian forces should be withdrawn from Lebanon. It was the cause of everything six years before when Assad thought he was the lion de la grande Syrie (the lion of a greater Syria),' Sadat said.
'I accept President Sadat's request to give more time to Philip Habib to resolve the crisis in Lebanon -- caused by the Syrians -- by peaceful means,' Begin replied. 'We don't want war with Syria but, as President Sadat said, the status quo ante must be restored.'
Sadat said he and Begin did not discuss the deadlocked Palestinian autonomy negotiations but did raise the perennial question of Jerusalem, which the Egyptian leader said could be run by a joint Arab-Israeli council. 'This is my considered opinion and Begin disagreed,' Sadat said.