When Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem 40 years ago
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When Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem 40 years ago

Snapshots from historic visit by Egypt's president capture a laugh with Menachem Begin, cheering schoolchildren throwing flowers, and reporters frantically filing their stories

  • Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (R) and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat share a laugh at the King David Hotel on November 19, 1977. (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
    Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (R) and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat share a laugh at the King David Hotel on November 19, 1977. (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
  • Jerusalem schoolchildren with balloons and flowers cheer Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on November 21, 1977 (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
    Jerusalem schoolchildren with balloons and flowers cheer Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on November 21, 1977 (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
  • Egyptian president Anwar Sadat prays at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on November 20, 1977 (Miki Tzarfati/GPO archive)
    Egyptian president Anwar Sadat prays at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on November 20, 1977 (Miki Tzarfati/GPO archive)
  • Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Knesset on November 20, 1977 (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
    Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Knesset on November 20, 1977 (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
  • Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses Israel's Knesset on November 20,1977 (
    Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses Israel's Knesset on November 20,1977 (
  • Egyptian President Anwar Sadat waves goodbye before departing Ben Gurion Airport on November 21, 1977 (Miki Tzarfati/GPO archive)
    Egyptian President Anwar Sadat waves goodbye before departing Ben Gurion Airport on November 21, 1977 (Miki Tzarfati/GPO archive)
  • Egyptian President Anwar Sadat lands in Israel on November 19, 1977 (Moshe Milner/GPO archive)
    Egyptian President Anwar Sadat lands in Israel on November 19, 1977 (Moshe Milner/GPO archive)
  • Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli foreign minister Moshe Dayan at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in November 1977 (Ya'akov Saar/GPO photo archive)
    Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli foreign minister Moshe Dayan at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in November 1977 (Ya'akov Saar/GPO photo archive)
  • Journalists crowd in the communications center established in the foyer of the Jerusalem theater during Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in November 1977. (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)
    Journalists crowd in the communications center established in the foyer of the Jerusalem theater during Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in November 1977. (Ya'akov Sa'ar/GPO archive)

The Knesset on Tuesday marked the 40 year anniversary of the historic visit by former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Israel, which paved the way for the peace deal between the two former enemy countries.

On November 20, 1977, Sadat became the first — and so far only — Arab leader to visit Israel and address the Knesset with a call for peace.

Sadat’s visit heralded Israeli-Egyptian talks at Camp David a year later, and a full peace agreement in 1979, just six years after the painful Yom Kippur War.

After arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on November 19, Sadat met with Begin. The next day, he prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, before heading to Israel’s parliament to give his speech (full text here).

“I sincerely tell you that before us today lies the appropriate chance for peace, if we are really serious in our endeavors for peace. It is a chance that time cannot afford once again. It is a chance that, if lost or wasted, the plotter against it will bear the curse of humanity and the curse of history,” Sadat told the Knesset in Arabic.

Photographs from the visit show Sadat deep in conversation with Israeli leaders, flower-adorned schoolchildren waiting in Jerusalem for a glimpse of the Egyptian president, and journalists from around the world frantically dispatching their reports.

Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat prays at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on November 20, 1977 (Miki Tzarfati/GPO archive)
Prime Minister Menachem Begin welcomes Egyptian president Anwar Sadat at Ben Gurion Airport on November 19, 1997 (Moshe Milner/GPO archive
Reporters filing their stories from the Jerusalem Theater communications center during Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel on November 21, 1977 (Ya’akov Sa’ar/GPO archive)
Anwar Sadat with Golda Meir and Shimon Peres in the Knesset. (Ya’acov Sa’ar/GPO)
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