Anwar Sadat: Envisioning Peace - The Negotiated Peace

"Signing of the Camp David Accords", 1977, Government of Luxemburg Library, Public Domain.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter became President of the United States. By this time, Israel had a new prime minister, Menachem Begin. Anwar felt that for the first time in many years, all three countries had strong leaders. He felt a bond with President Carter, who had a farming background much like Anwar. But there were real obstacles to overcome in order to having a lasting peace with Israel. Egypt and Israel had never talked face-to-face because of the lingering mistrust they felt for each other.

President Carter wrote a private letter to Anwar. Anwar never revealed the contents of the letter but it made him recall his imprisonment in Cell 54 many years before and the belief he had back then that “if one cannot change the fabric of his thought he cannot change reality”.  Shortly after receiving the letter, he announced that he would “go to the end of the earth” to find a peace with Israel – even if it meant going to Israel itself.  Since no Arab nation even recognized the existence of Israel, no one thought he was serious. But Prime Minister Begin heard his speech and formally invited him to Israel – and Anwar accepted the invitation.

Anwar made the historic trip to Israel in November, 1977. He met with Israeli officials, spoke to the Knesset (the Israeli Congress), and worshiped at a very holy Moslem Mosque located in Jerusalem. 

In 1978, at the invitation of President Jimmy Carter, Sadat and Begin, at Camp David in the United States. At first, the three men found there were large issues that impeded the progress of the negotiations. However, all three men were determined to find a path to peace. They met in very intense talks for 13 straight days. It is said that during a break in their talks, they were comparing photographs of their grandchildren. It is said that Jimmy Carter asked the two leaders, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our grandchildren could live a world where they would not fear their neighbor?” 

Soon after, the three leaders announced they had reached a peace agreement, calling it the Camp David Accord. It provided the framework that eventually led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and all three leaders signed the at the White House in March of 1979.

For this historic effort, both Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Original Release: Dec 17, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Sep 14, 2016

1) BBC, Sadat's Historic Trip to Isreal, BBC, Oct/19/1977, Dec/15/2015, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/19/newsid_2520000/2520467.stm

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