40 years after Sadat’s historic visit, Israel pays tribute

by WorldTribune Staff, November 23, 2017

The connection between Israel and Egypt “is more important than words can say” and “can never be taken for granted,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Nov. 22 in a ceremony marking 40 years since the historic visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Israel.

“Forty years later, thirty-eight years since the peace agreement, Egypt, ‘Om El Donya’ ‘Mother of the World’, is an extremely important ally,” Rivlin said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin: Forty years ago ‘the world’s media watched with open mouths as enemies became friends.’ / Mark Neiman – GPO

The ceremony also included addresses by the Ambassador of Egypt, Hazem Khairat; the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yuval Rotem; and former Deputy President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Justice (Ret.) Eliyakim Rubenstien, who had served at the time as an aide to Moshe Dayan, and was part of the Israeli negotiations team. The event was attended by senior Israeli figures, Ambassadors and diplomats representing countries from around the world, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported.

“On Saturday evening, on the 19th November 1977, the Israeli Army Band played the Egyptian national anthem for the very first time. The world’s media watched with open mouths as enemies became friends,” Rivlin said. “No one will ever forget that amazing moment, the meeting of two leaders: Begin and Sadat. Both leaders carried the pride of their peoples. They both carried the history, the scars, the wars, and the fears. They both had the desire, the dream, to bring peace between the Arab nations and Israel. This was the significance and the historic importance of the visit of President Sadat of Egypt.”

Rivlin said there were “Ten days that changed history. Ten days, that brought twenty-nine years of fighting to an end. On the Ninth of November President Sadat told the Egyptian Parliament, that for peace he would go to the end of the world, even to Jerusalem. The reporters rushed to give their editors this great headline, but so many did not believe it. They could not believe that they were really seeing history. Two days later, Prime Minister Begin turned to the Egyptian people. He said: ‘Let us say one to another, both peoples of Egypt and Israel: No more wars no more bloodshed, and no more threats’ – words that will stay with us forever. Then on 15th November, an official invitation came from Jerusalem to Cairo, through the American Ambassadors. President Sadat visited Israel, for just two days. He spoke in the Knesset in Arabic. He held five meetings with Prime Minister Begin. Two days of sincerity, of determination. Two days which led to an historic peace agreement.”

Rivlin went on to note the importance of the recent meeting between Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said this was “An open meeting between the head of an Arab regional power, and the Prime Minister of Israel. A meeting that made it clear to the whole world, that the connection between Israel and Egypt is very real and genuine, and can continue to grow. We live together in a difficult region. We have found a way to live together in peace and friendship. This is a message to the whole region, and the whole world.”

Ambassador Khairat said that “Egypt’s experience validates that peace is possible and is indeed a realistic objective that we should all continue to pursue seriously. In doing so I put before you the following question, did we achieve Sadat’s dream of the comprehensive peace that puts an end to one of the longest disputes in modern history? If not, then how can we do so based on the parameters of peace outlined by Sadat?”

“In this framework and in conjunction with our efforts to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Egypt exerts tremendous efforts to achieve unity amongst Palestinians through a comprehensive reconciliation process based on good faith and trust, not only for political and security reasons, but also and more importantly to alleviate the humanitarian hardship facing civilians in Gaza, which reached inhuman living conditions for over one and a half million citizens – something that Egypt’s human conscience could not stand either. Moreover, such reconciliation gives hope to innocent civilians for a better life and paves the way for the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. Your support and that of the international community for our efforts in this regard is of paramount importance.”

The ambassador concluded, “Egypt is adamant to seizing the golden opportunity to reviving peace talks to achieve a credible and comprehensive peace agreement, especially in view of President Trump’s, and the new administration’s commitment to move this process forward.”


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