Egypt and Israel: Forty Years in the Desert of Cold Peace

Sadat, Begin, and Carter after the signing of the Egypt/Israel peace treaty

By: Moomen Sallam and Ofir Winter

On November 19, 2017, Israel and Egypt will mark the fortieth anniversary
of Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, when from the podium of the
Knesset, the Egyptian President articulated his historic call for peace – “the
last of wars and the end of sorrows…a new beginning to a new life – the
life of love, prosperity, freedom and peace.”

Sadat with Golda Meir
The fortieth anniversary of this seminal event, which was followed by
drawn-out negotiations that ultimately concluded successfully with the
signing of a peace treaty on March 26, 1979, invites a reassessment of the
successes and disappointments of the Egyptian-Israeli peace thus far. The
hope, particularly in Israel, was that the agreement would lead to warm,
neighborly relations between Egyptians and Israelis based on coexistence,
an acceptance of the other, and mutual cooperative endeavors. In practice,
however, the peace between Egypt and Israel has remained “cold,” providing
the two countries with more than the “negative peace” of an armistice but
less than a “positive peace,” which in its broad sense includes reconciliation,
mutual acceptance, and cooperative endeavors between the states and
their peoples.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian President al-Sissi meet in New York, Sep 18, 2017.
Israel and Egypt have limited themselves to tactical security
coordination between their armies, correct diplomatic relations, and specific
cooperative economic endeavors, while the cultivation of civic relationships
between the two peoples, such as large scale economic interactions and
the exchange of cultures, remains a far-off vision.
Early in the era of peace, following three decades of hostility and bloody
wars, it was already clear that the mental, consciousness-based transition
from conflict to peace would be no simple matter. President Sadat himself

Strategic Assessment, Volume 20, No. 3, October 2017

Moomen Sallam is the director of the Civic Egypt portal (

Dr. Of!r Winter is a research fellow at INSS.

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