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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Egypt Under Sadat: From War to Peace at Camp David

Egypt under Sadat
Nasser died in September 1970 and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Under Sadat’s leadership, Egypt and Syria secretly planned a war against Israel that began on October 6, 1973. Although the Arabs were successful at first, Israeli troops pushed them back and crossed the Suez Canal to occupy Egyptian land. The Israelis, however, suffered severe losses during their drive into Egypt.

As had been true after the Six-Day War, all sides had reason to seek a compromise settlement. U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger began an intensive campaign of shuttle diplomacy moving back and forth from Israel to Egypt and Syria to try to obtain an agreement. He eventually achieved two settlements, one between Israel and Egypt and one between Israel and Syria. Thereafter, the movement toward peace seemed to run out of steam. In November 1977, however, Sadat surprised the world. He went to Israel to speak in person to the Israeli parliament and to Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.

Sadat’s action opened a new dialogue between Egypt and Israel, which the United States openly supported. Many months of delicate negotiations followed, aided by the direct support of President jimmy Carter. In September 1978, Carter invited the two leaders to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. After meetings and negotiations there, Sadat and Begin agreed on the framework for a peace settlement. The Camp David Accords were followed by a peace treaty that Egypt and Israel signed in March 1979.

Egypt and Israel had achieved a great break through, but many people doubted it would end the Arab-Israeli confrontation. Most Israelis supported the peace with Egypt, but many resisted the idea of a process that might lead to a Palestinian state. The Camp David Accords led to division within the Arab world as well. While Sadat had many supporters, his opponents claimed that the Egyptian leader had sold out the Palestinians to regain Egyptian territory. In 1981 a group of Egyptian radicals assassinated Sadat, darkening hopes for peace in the Middle East.


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