May 23, 2019

Forty Years of Peace with Egypt

“Forty years ago this month, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in Washington. It was the first peace treaty signed by Israel with an Arab country.

Sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, the most powerful Arab state recognized Israel officially, and formally committed to live in peace with it.

The peace treaty came in the wake of a difficult diplomatic process which began with secret dealings between representatives of the two countries, leading to an astonishing visit to Jerusalem by Sadat, the first ever formal visit by any Arab leader to Israel.

Sadat was the only Arab leader who truly understood the collective psychology of the Israeli people. In the eyes of Israelis, Sadat’s visit transformed the Arab-Israeli conflict from an intractable dispute into a manageable disagreement.

Sadat himself used to stress, prior to the signing of the peace agreement, that “90% of the Arab-Israeli conflict is psychological.” He overstated his case, but that is irrelevant. Sadat was not speaking as an objective observer. What is important is that he acted as though the conflict was 90% psychological.”

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