Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Middle East Peace: 30 year anniversary of Camp David Egypt – Israel peace treaty

Posted by sanityinjection on March 25, 2009

Tomorrow, March 26, marks the 30th anniversary of the handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that sealed the historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Today, Egypt and Israel are hardly the best of friends, and animosity remains especially among the Egyptian populace. But consider this: During the 30 years leading up to the Camp David Accords of 1976, Israel and Egypt fought four wars. Since then, they have fought zero. And, since Egypt was always the engine of Arab military operations, Israel has also fought zero wars with the combined Arab nations since 1976 – only smaller actions against Lebanon and Palestinian groups. Also as a result of the treaty, both Israel and Egypt have benefited from billions of dollars in US aid.

By any reasonable standard, then, the treaty has been a success. And a rare one for the hapless Carter Presidency. Carter’s genius lay not in his brilliant diplomatic efforts, but rather in his ultimate realization, after multiple failures to broker a deal, that an agreement had to come from the Arabs and Israelis themselves, and could not be imposed on them by the US or anyone else. So Carter, a deeply faithful Christian, did a very un-Christian thing: He locked Begin and Sadat in a room together and wouldn’t let them out until they’d made some progress. And the rest is history.

Much remains to be done, of course. Israeli-Egyptian relations remain cool, although the nations do communicate regularly and frequently and participate in military, academic, scientific and agricultural exchanges. Egypt remains deeply committed to the cause of its Palestinian brethren (literally – many Palestinians have Egyptian ancestry), often serving as a go-between between Israel and groups such as Hamas with whom direct talks are not possible. It’s hard to imagine warm and friendly relations between the two countries absent a solution to the Palestinian question. Nor does the prevalent anti-Semitism in Egypt, tacitly encouraged by the government, contribute to improved relations.

Still, the Egypt-Israeli peace agreement serves as a model on which other agreements, such as the one Jordan signed in the 1990s, can be based. It included the principle (and indeed, the reality in Sinai) of swapping “land for peace”. Those who question the value of this formula need only do two things: visit Sharm el-Sheikh and see the tourist trade Egypt now benefits from as a result of regaining the Sinai, and visit the largely unfenced Egypt-Israeli border and consider how much more Israel benefits from not having a hostile enemy on its southern border than it would have from scattered settlements.


2 Responses to “Middle East Peace: 30 year anniversary of Camp David Egypt – Israel peace treaty”

  1. sanityinjection said

    More reflection on this anniversary from Jehan Sadat, widow of Anwar Sadat:

    Mrs. Sadat’s column reminds me of an important point I neglected to mention: Sadat ultimately paid the price for peace with his own life, as he was assassinated by Muslim extremists on the orders of the same sheik who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This should serve as a reminder that Islamic terrorism is not a new phenomenon or a collection of diverse groups, but a unified current that has been developing and growing continuously since the 1960s.

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