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Egypt Through the Ages

Rapprochement with Israel



Although Egypt did not win the war, it effectively challenged the 1967 boundaries and, helped by the “shuttle diplomacy” of U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, regained control of the Suez Canal. Having boosted Egyptian morale, Sadat was ready for negotiations. In 1974 and 1975 Egypt and Israel concluded agreements—again mediated by Kissinger—providing disengagement on the Sinai front. In June 1975 Egypt reopened the Suez Canal, permitting passage to ships carrying Israeli cargoes. Israel withdrew beyond the strategic passes and from some of the oil fields in the Sinai.

Meanwhile, Egypt's economic position was growing rapidly worse; by early 1976 the country's debt to the USSR was estimated at $4 billion. The following year, surprising all, Sadat asked the Soviet military advisers to leave the country and threw his lot in with the United States, it held the key to peace in the Middle East. Even more surprising, on November 19, 1977, Sadat flew to Israel and addressed the Knesset (parliament) in a bid for peace. The historic journey was followed by further negotiations under U.S. auspices. At a tripartite conference with U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland, in September 1978, Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed on a framework for an Israeli-Egyptian settlement. A peace treaty between the two nations, based on the Camp David accords, was signed in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 1979.


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