Anwar Sadat and Mideast Peace

December 9, 1977: In Cairo, tens of thousands of Egyptians demonstrated, carrying placards and chanting slogans of support for President Anwar Sadat’s drive for peace. While Egypt severed relations with Arab states, King Hussein of Jordan arrived in Cairo for a visit. Hussein seemed to be ready to agree to the Jordanian participation in the joint Israeli-Arab meeting in Cairo, suggested by Sadat, preparatory to the reconvening of the Geneva Peace Conference.

Sadat engaged in negotiations with Israel, culminating in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty; this won him and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize, making Sadat the first Muslim Nobel laureate. Though reaction to the treaty—which resulted in the return of Sinai to Egypt—was generally favorable among Egyptians, it was rejected by the country’s Muslim Brotherhood and leftists in particular, who felt Sadat had abandoned efforts to ensure a Palestinian state.  With the exception of Sudan, the Arab world and the PLO strongly opposed Sadat’s efforts to make a separate peace with Israel without prior consultations with the Arab states.  His refusal to reconcile with them over the Palestinian issue resulted in Egypt being suspended from the Arab League from 1979 to 1989.  The peace treaty was also one of the primary factors that led to his assassination by fundamentalist Egyptian Army officers on October 6, 1981.

Pictured here is a set of stamps issued by Egypt in 1981 memorializing President Sadat, as the caption read, “Lived for Peace and Martyred for Principles.”

anwar sadat 1981 - egypt

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