In some important ways today's hatreds, explosions, and wars can be traced to the false and deceptive 'peace' created by the US and Israel with Egypt 25 years ago. And look at what it all has wrought:
COMMEMORATING A COLD PEACE
The Knesset commemorated the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty with Egypt today - in an atmosphere that well corresponded to the cold state of Egyptian-Israeli relations.
Participating in today's event were President Moshe Katzav, Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak, senior religious and diplomatic figures, and other invited guests. Many MKs and ministers, however, did not show up - thus creating a bizarre situation in which the guest rows were full while the plenum itself was half-empty.
Even more noticeable was the absence of an Egyptian delegation. Egypt announced on Monday, after the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, that it would not send representatives to the ceremony. This, after it had previously downgraded its delegation twice in a clear indication of its lack of desire to participate.
The peace agreement with Egypt, brokered by then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, was marked by Israel's agreement to withdraw from all of Sinai - from where Egyptians had launched attacks against Israel over the course of many years - and destroy the city of Yamit and neighboring communities.
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin opened today's session by saying, "Here we are commemorating the peace treaty with Egypt, while its representatives prefer not to be here. But this cold and particularly unfriendly peace, which shows no signs of normalization, continues to stand up to difficult tests."
Prime Minister Sharon spoke of a "welcome process of warming-up, even if it is slow, between Israel and Egypt." He called for economic and agricultural cooperation, and said, "We are working to advance a number of projects." Sharon hinted gently at the need for an "improvement in the atmosphere and bilateral relations."
Mr. Sharon called the ceremony "a salute" to the late leaders Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He said that through the Camp David Accords, "Israel proved its intention again to live in peace with all its neighbors." Sharon also quoted the Torah command issued despite the harsh slavery the Jews suffered in Egypt: "Do not hate an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land," along with the comment of the classic commentator Rashi, "because he gave you shelter."
Opposition leader Shimon Peres praised the "non-charismatic and unimportant" Anwar Sadat, who, he said, "went on to become the "most important Arab leader in the 20th century." Peres also praised Sadat's successor, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who "stands at the head of the front to liberate the Middle Eastern nations from the insanity and fright of terrorism."
Shas Party leader MK Eli Yeshai praised Menachem Begin, who signed the peace treaty with Sadat. "Begin said that he would not retreat one inch, yet knew how to make a courageous and wise decision," Yeshai said.
Arab MK Azmi Bshara said that the "model of peace with Egypt is stable, but it will be complete only when it applies to all the territories that were conquered."
Likud MK David Levy criticized Mubarak for not freeing Israeli citizen Azzam Azzam and for never having visited Israel.
Israeli officials have long criticized Egypt for not doing nearly enough to stop the smuggling of arms and terrorists from Egypt into Gaza. Others note that Egypt continues to build up its weapons arsenal even though it faces no enemies.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) explained why he boycotted today's Knesset session:
"The relationship between Egypt and Israel is not one of peace, but of cold war. Egypt has no ambassador in Israel, and does not combat the smuggling of weapons, drugs and women [to the Gaza Strip]; therefore, it is appropriate to express protest and not to celebrate a peace treaty that did not bring peace." Arutz-7 - 25 March 2004