On Sunday, March 28, 2004 Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom hosted a reception at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.
Twenty five years ago, on 26 March 1979, the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar al-Sadat signed the Peace Treaty between the State of Israel and Arab Republic of Egypt, in a ceremony in Washington D.C. hosted by US President Jimmy Carter.
The conclusion of peace with Egypt constituted a watershed event, which changed the course of history for Israel and the entire region. The signing of the treaty brought with it a fundamental shift in the parameters of the political reality of the Middle East, transforming a situation of on-going conflict into a process of peace-building and of establishing neighborly and cooperative relations.
Today, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to two brave men – President Anwar al-Sadat, for his daring initiative to come to the Knesset in Jerusalem to speak of peace with the State of Israel, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, for his prudent and visionary policy which guided Israel, leading it forward on the path toward peace.
Of equal importance was the great effort expended by President Carter and the US administration under his leadership, which facilitated the signing of the treaty.
This peace treaty embodies the determination of these leaders and nations to look back upon a painful and traumatic past, and to understand it also as a springboard toward a peaceful future.
The State of Israel sees the treaty as a way to create a common future for the both the people of Israel and the people of the region, and to establish normalized relations between Israelis and Arabs such as those existing among other nations of the globe.
The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty is now 25 years old. And while it is not an ideal agreement, containing close, neighborly and normalized ties between peoples, it is nevertheless a stable agreement of strategic importance to both states, and a true expression of the realization of Israel’s everlasting aspiration to live among its neighbors in peace.