President Carter, Prime Minister Begin, and President Sadat join hands on the
North Grounds of the White House to celebrate the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, 26 March 1979.
Photo: Jimmy Carter Library and Museum
Today, 26 March 2009, marks 30 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty at the White House in Washington. The passage of time has shown the importance of this document, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for the entire Middle East. The vision of the two leaders who signed this treaty, Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, has ushered in an era of strategic and economic cooperation. We hope that our ties with Egypt will continue to strengthen and that the friendship and cooperation between the two countries will only grow.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni commemorated the anniversary in a speech at the official government ceremony.
Additionally, Jehan Sadat, widow of President Anwar Sadat, noted the anniversary with an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Here’s an excerpt:
Thirty years ago today, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter signed the Camp David Peace Accords. It was a culmination of a journey Anwar Sadat, my husband, began in October 1970 following the sudden death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Within hours of Nasser’s funeral, my husband asked the U.S. ambassador to tell President Richard Nixon that Egypt was ready for peace.
There was no response, since at the time Egypt was a defeated nation having lost the Sinai Desert to Israel in the 1967 war. But Egypt’s victory in the October War of 1973 put Sadat in a position to restart his mission for peace.
On Nov. 9, 1977, in an address to the Egyptian Parliament, my husband announced his intention to make peace with Israel. The audience, which included Yasser Arafat, was stunned at first. Then, they began clapping. When Sadat arrived 10 days later in Jerusalem, then Prime Minister Golda Meir said: “Why are you late? We have been waiting for you.”