Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Uneven marking of Camp David deal

The original document signed by US, Israeli and Egyptian leaders

Israel is marking 30 years since its first peace treaty with an Arab state, although in the other signatory, Egypt, there is little public acknowledgement.

The Camp David Accord was sealed with a handshake on the White House lawn on 26 March 1979 between Israeli PM Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat.

The Israeli foreign ministry organised a reception with the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv, Yasser Reda.

Relations have cooled over Israel's offensive in Gaza, correspondents say.

Though the Egyptian authorities are not marking the anniversary, the main pro-government newspaper, al-Ahram, used it to publish harsh criticism of Israel.

It chided Israelis for electing right-wing leaders who engage in "despicable manoeuvres against Egypt" at last month's polls.

In spite of tremendous efforts and good intentions the goal of comprehensive peace remains elusive
Yasser Reda
Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv

"There is no room for celebration," the newspaper said.

"On this anniversary, there isn't an atmosphere of optimism and the facts on the ground are not pushing anyone toward celebration."

Mr Reda attended a ceremony at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, along with his American counterpart and Israel's envoy to Egypt.

"In spite of tremendous efforts and good intentions the goal of comprehensive peace remains elusive," he said.

"We believe the Palestinian question still lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

Israel's ambassador to Cairo, Shalom Cohen, lamented the "anti-Israeli reality" among ordinary Egyptians.


Under the deal, Israel agreed to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula which it had occupied in whole or in part since 1967 and Egypt agreed to demilitarise the area and normalise relations with Israel.

As well as political ties, the peace treaty opened economic relations between Egypt and Israel and the US provided vast amounts of financial and military aid to Egypt.

However, promises of a comprehensive peace agreement for the whole Middle East quickly ran into difficulties and Egypt was shunned through the 1980s by other Arab countries.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has never repeated his predecessor's groundbreaking trip to Israel in late 1977, apart from attending Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.

Israel's foreign minister-designate, Avigdor Lieberman, a right-winger known for hardline anti-Arab rhetoric, was at the centre of a diplomatic row in 2008, when he said Mr Mubarak could "go to hell" if he continued to avoid visiting Israel.

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