Egyptian envoy hails peace with Israel as top officials snub memorial invite
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40th anniversary of Anwar Sadat's historic trip to Israel

Egyptian envoy hails peace with Israel as top officials snub memorial invite

Ambassador Hazem Khairat declares 1979 accord should serve as blueprint for wider Israeli-Arab peace, says 'genuine and lasting' peace still needed

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat addressing the Herzliya Conference, June 17, 2016 (screen shot)
Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat addressing the Herzliya Conference, June 17, 2016 (screen shot)

Egypt’s ambassador to Israel on Thursday said his country’s 1979 peace agreement with Israel should serve as a blueprint for Israel to forge comprehensive peace with the Arab world.

“We can say [to the Israeli public], ‘Look, we have reached peace, there is no reason why you cannot reach this peace too,'” Hazem Khairat told Israel Radio in an interview.

Israelis “should go back to Sadat’s address to the Knesset 40 years ago and they should see what we have been able to achieve, and not achieve, from that speech,” Khairat said.

The interview comes just before the 40th anniversary of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel in 1977. The visit helped pave the way for Israeli-Egyptian talks at Camp David a year later, and a full peace agreement between the two former enemies  in 1979.

On November 20, 1977, Sadat made history when he became the first Arab leader to address the Knesset and call for peace with Israel.

“You want to live with us in this part of the world. In all sincerity, I tell you, we welcome you among us, with full security and safety,” he said, “declar[ing] to the whole world, that we accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice.”

But despite the agreement, bilateral ties between Israel and Egypt never really warmed up, and formal ties have remained strained.

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Knesset during his visit to Israel on November 20, 1977 (photo credit: Flash90)
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Knesset during his visit to Israel on November 20, 1977 (Flash90)

Reports in Hebrew-language media this week said that not a single Egyptian official accepted an Israeli invitation to next week’s ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Sadat’s visit.

In his interview, Khairat noted the “brave” agreement followed a period bloodshed and a bitter sentiment from both sides, and said there was still a need for a “genuine and lasting peace that Sadat spoke of.”

Under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt in recent years has emerged as a broker in the Peace Process between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a mediator for internal Palestinian affairs.

Cairo is facilitating the current reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority.

Last month, the two sides signed an agreement in Cairo allowing for the PA to take control of Gaza by December 1.

On Tuesday, Sissi said he hoped that Palestinian reconciliation will be part of the larger process of striking a final peace accord with Israel.

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