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March 26, 2019 4:04 pm

On 40th Anniversary, Israel-Egypt Peace Deal Hailed for Opening ‘New Chapter’ in the Middle East

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Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin shaking hands on the White House grounds, March 26, 1979. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

The 1979 agreement — brokered by then-US President Jimmy Carter — was inked by then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at a White House ceremony.

In a statement on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Begin and Sadat “took a courageous step in choosing peace.”

The peace deal “laid the foundation for a new chapter in the Middle East,” Pompeo added. “This crowning diplomatic achievement was the result of years of intense negotiations and remains a shining example of what can be achieved through honest dialogue, collaborative diplomacy and moral courage. Not only did the treaty open the door to increased US partnership with Egypt, it also set the stage for a safer, more stable, better integrated region, ending a long period of armed conflict.”

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“We take the opportunity today to celebrate the progress we have made and to emphasize our unwavering dedication to pursuing a more comprehensive peace in the region that respects the dignity and security of all involved,” Pompeo concluded.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted on Tuesday, “40 years on, Israel is proud of this lasting peace, which benefits our peoples & the region.”

The peace treaty was the first signed by Israel with an Arab country. Under its terms, Israel ceded to Egypt the Sinai Peninsula — which Israel had taken control of during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The relationship between the two countries has since been strained at times, particularly when there have been outbursts of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but ties have steadily improved since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in Cairo in 2013, after ousting his predecessor as president, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel and Egypt share a number of regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS.

However, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public.

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