St. James in the Lion’s Den

On March 26th, 1979, The Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty (معاهدة السلام المصرية الإسرائيلية‎; Mu`āhadat as-Salām al-Misrīyah al-‘Isrā’īlīyah; הסכם השלום בין ישראל למצרים‎; Heskem HaShalom Bein Yisrael LeMitzrayim) was signed in Washington, DC, following the 1978 Camp David Accords. The Egypt–Israel treaty was signed by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and witnessed by United States President and facilitator Jimmy Carter.

After the UN mandate vote and de facto establishment of the State of Israel in 1947, the tiny nation found itself in an almost constant state of war with her neighbors and natives within. Immediately after the mandate, significant fighting recommenced between Zionist and Palestinian Arab forces, and the Zionists effectively secured all the lands included in the mandate. On May 14, 1948, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed by Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territories, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, UN-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of those conquered areas. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority. These conflicts continued largely unabated through the 1956 Suez Crisis, the 1967 Six-Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War

The treaty between Egypt and Israel was executed 16 months after Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 following intense negotiation. The main features, arrived at through the Camp David Accords, were mutual recognition, cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, normalization of relations and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Egypt agreed to leave the area demilitarized. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal, with recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. The accord notably made Egypt the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel, and jointly earned Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.

Sadly, in 1981 Sadat was assassinated in a plot by Muslim extremists in his own ranks, and by 1982 Israel was at war with its northern neighbor Lebanon. Thankfully, the particular peace Carter’s efforts wrought has held. In more recent history, under now-indicted and embattled PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government continues to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip and facilitate the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank. In the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict alone, some 2,310 combatant and civilian souls perished on both sides as the ceaseless struggle drags on to this day.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.