44 years after Anwar Sadat's Israel visit: Arab countries slowly following his path

44 years ago on November 19, 1977, Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel proposing peace between the two Middle East nations.

By Kumar Panda  Published on  24 Nov 2021 6:54 AM GMT
44 years after Anwar Sadats Israel visit: Arab countries slowly following his path
Fig.1 -

Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin during Sadat's Israel visit

Peace comes with a price. 44 years ago on November 19, 1977, Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel proposing peace between the two Middle East nations. That came with the price of his life. The members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad assassinated him four years later while attending a victory parade marking the anniversary beginning of the Yom Kippur War that saw Egypt regain the Sinai Peninsula from Israel. The Sinai Peninsula was occupied by Israel in a six-day war in 1967.

The assassination did not come as a surprise to many. In fact, the US CIA was dealing with the prospects for succession if Sadat was killed.

The gains of the Yom Kippur War made Sadat a hero not just in Egypt but among the Arab world. But three years down in November 1977, Sadat addressed Knesset - the legislature of Israel proposing peace between the two Middle East nations that were at war for 3 decades.

The visit made him a persona-non-grata to Arab countries. Arab countries expelled Egypt from Arab League for a decade, imposed economic sanctions.

The speech that must be taught to everyone:

"I come to you today on solid ground to shape a new life and to establish peace. We all love this land, the land of God, we all, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all worship God," said Sadat addressing Knesset.

In his speech, Sadat said the decision was taken without consultation with the Arab heads or other confrontation states. "Finally, amidst the ruins of what man has built among the remains of the victims of mankind, there emerges neither victor nor vanquished. The only vanquished remains always a man, God's most sublime creation. Man, whom God has created, like Gandhi, the apostle of peace puts it, to forge ahead, to mold the way of life and to worship God Almighty," he said referring to Gandhi.

Despite on a visit proposing peace, Sadat was stern on his demand of Israel give back the territory conquered in the war of 1967 and achievement of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, including their right to establish their own state.

From the Knesset, Sadat called for recognition of Palestine. "In all sincerity, I tell you that there can be no peace without the Palestinians. It is a grave error of unpredictable consequences to overlook or brush aside this cause."

The visit culminated in a peace deal known as Camp David Accords 16 months later with mutual recognition making Egypt the first Arab state to recognize the Jewish state. This earned Sadat and Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister of Israel a Nobel peace prize.

In 1993, on similar lines, the Palestinian Liberation Organization entered into a peace deal with Israel. But the same failed in 2000 with the declaration of the Second Intifada. However, the governance structure established under the Oslo Accords i.e., transfer of control of major Palestinian cities and towns in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is still in place. Incidentally, the Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin who signed the Oslo Accords was assassinated by Israeli extremists - a similar fate meted by Sadat.

Jimmy Carter, Sadat, and Begin during Camp David Accords

40+ years later:

40+ years since the Arab states are yet to completely accept the direction proposed by Sadat. Only one Arab country recognized Israel along with Egypt recently. In 2020 UAE became a major Arab nation to which establish an embassy in Israel. In September, Israel inaugurated its embassy in Bahrain. Similarly, ties with Morocco and Sudan are on the course of normalization.

Only a few days back, the emerging Quad Foreign Ministers of USA-Israel-UAE-India met in Washington for security dialogue. An Arab nation and Israel sitting across a table for security cooperation is never thought of a few years back.

Former US President Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to bring onboard Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel. But Saudi Arabia continues to build covert ties with Israel. It is only a matter of time; the remaining Arab nations recognize Israel and ultimately follow the path proposed by Sadat.

The Sadat visit shaped the global Jihad:

One of the accused in the Sadat assassination was a prominent Egyptian doctor by the name of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri acted as the spokesperson for the plotters in prison. But was soon released for lack of evidence. He eventually met Osama Bin Laden becoming his deputy and steering al-Qaida towards the goal of destroying Israel ally USA and thereby destroying the Jewish state.

Zawahiri succeeded Laden as head of al-Qaida and now 70, is still on run. With his ideological ally Taliban back in Kabul, the veteran fighter may implement plans to get grip on the affiliates who are largely on their own since the death of the charismatic and most controversial Jihadist - Osama Bin Laden.

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