The Israeli – Egyptian Peace: 40 Years On / BESA Center

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In stark contrast to the extraordinary vision and courage displayed by PM Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in signing the peace treaty 40 years ago, the Palestinian leadership emerges as staunchly rejectionist and a serial squanderer of opportunities for peace. One can only hope that the Arab regimes, which appear increasingly reluctant to remain hostage to Palestinian rejectionism, will be courageous enough to follow in Sadat’s visionary footsteps.

By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Bartal
SOURCE: BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,123, March 26, 2019

This week will mark the 40th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The treaty was accompanied by the framework agreements that were signed at Camp David in September 1978 with the mediation of then-US President Jimmy Carter.

Israeli PM Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat undoubtedly displayed rare diplomatic vision and political courage in their approach to resolving the conflict. On the Arab spectrum, Egypt stood out as a path-breaking state compared to the Palestinian leadership, which, since that time, has missed opportunities for peace over and over again.

In his memoirs, Carter recounts that he sent emissaries to Yasser Arafat and to the PLO in an effort to persuade them to join Sadat’s initiative and the peace summit at Camp David. Sadat, too, tried to convince Arafat to join the peace initiative both before and after his historic visit to Jerusalem. The Palestinians refused.

In an interview to the newspaper Al-Hawadat on December 30, 1977, only a month after his visit to Jerusalem, Sadat pointed to the Palestinians’ rejectionism and said their insistence on getting all or nothing had led them, since the days of the British Mandate, to squander every opportunity for a compromise.

Sadat also quoted Iraqi King Faisal, who remarked that “the Palestinians don’t want a solution at all.” Egyptian FM Boutros Ghali, later the UN Secretary General, likewise said at the time that “the exaggerated concern with the Palestinian issue must be stopped once and for all.”

Sadat did not ignore the Palestinian problem. On the contrary: he dealt with it courageously, as is evident from his speeches and from the Framework Agreement for Peace he signed with Israel in September 1978. That agreement sought to… TO CONTINUE READING FOLLOW THE LINK