Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Voices: 30 years of peace?

Two Egyptians and two Israelis reflect on the peace between their countries, on the 30th anniversary of the agreement.

MIRIAM AMIR, 28, Cairo
The peace treaty with Israel was probably the best thing Sadat did for Egypt. We had already fought in three wars, our resources were being drained and morale was low.

Miriam Amir

The treaty meant we could regain our land and improve our relationship with the US and it was in the best interests of our country at the time.

So, I view it very positively. I have a lot of friends who are Lebanese or Palestinian who see it differently. Some feel that Egypt was a traitor and that we let them down.

They feel bitter, and I understand where they're coming from. But I don't think it's accurate to say that most Egyptians are regretting the treaty now.

I think it is more like a truce than a real peace. People still perceive Israel as the enemy - I perceive Israel as a threat.

Our bad memories are very recent. There are a lot of people with relatives who died in the war, or who are still missing. It is a cold peace and we're not friends.

I have always wondered if I would ever visit the Holy Land in my lifetime. But from a moral point of view, I refuse to go there because of the Palestinian situation.

I'm kind of neutral with our conduct during the Gaza conflict. The government kept the border closed because it was in the best interests of Egypt, not because it wanted to ambush the Palestinians.

I do sympathise with Palestine and Lebanon and all the countries that have issues with Israel. But I put Egypt first.

Guy and Gili Rosenzweig in Egypt
Guy and his wife Gili visited the main tourist sites of central Egypt in 2007

I think the peace deal was a good decision. It's one of the quietest borders we have - although it's not a great peace.

It's a bit unnerving to go there, and many Israelis say they wouldn't go even it was safe.

My wife and I had always wanted to travel to Egypt - it's the birthplace of all civilisation. It was only a question of getting the courage to do it - and the courage to tell our parents we were going.

We have peace but it's not the friendliest country. We were nervous getting into a cab to Cairo, although we had been to the Sinai before.

At the hotels we had to say we were Israeli because they want to see your passport. It seemed like they couldn't care less - you're a tourist and that means money. However, we told people on the street we were Canadians.

We enjoyed the trip tremendously. I think Aswan, the things around it... Abu Simbel and the ancient Egyptian temples, were my favourite places.

I think it's more dangerous for Israelis to go to Sinai than to the rest of Egypt. Almost everyone in Sinai speaks Hebrew to some degree and they can spot an Israeli a mile away.

If any terror organisation wants to target Israelis, they will go to Sinai, not Cairo or Luxor.


At school we were taught that the peace treaty was one of Sadat's achievements, but it's only when you grow up that you start shaping your own view.

I think Sadat was a wise man. It was a necessary evil to sign the treaty - it brought us peace and we regained Sinai with dignity.

However, I see it as a cold peace between leaders. Only the government backs the treaty 100%.

No matter what the papers say, we haven't forgotten what Israel has done to us and we certainly don't approve of Israel's assaults on Palestine. So, there will never be warm feelings between us.

I think younger people are more likely to reject the treaty outright, than older people.

I believe Arabs should be united and help each other when in distress. But unfortunately, this doesn't happen.

Despite Israel's violations of the agreement, Egypt still closed the border with Rafah during the recent Gaza war, claiming that it was maintaining the peace deal!

Egypt gave Israel and the broken peace treaty priority over Palestine.

This is the difficulty the government faces in being allies with the US - which supports Israel so totally. Egypt also doesn't want to risk losing the aid it gets from the US.

I wouldn't really want to go to Israel, but I would love to go to Jerusalem, which I consider to be part of Palestine. I haven't met any Israelis in Egypt, although I know many go to the Red Sea.

I think we could have driven a harder bargain at Camp David. Now, when our treaty with Israel and those it has signed with Palestine are violated, we can't even object.

The UN Security Council is a playground for the US veto and Israel doesn't care about international law, human rights, peace treaties, anything.

OFRA ABRAMOVICH, 43, Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv

Ofra lived in the Israeli settlement of Yamit in the Sinai, aged 10 to 16. She and her family were forced to leave in 1982, when the settlement was evacuated as part of the 1979 peace deal.

Ofra Abramovich
Ofra (l) now, and (r) in the 80s, demonstrating against the evacuation of Yamit

For us it was like heaven. The first things we saw were sand, beach and palm trees.

We were very optimistic about the future. We definitely thought of it as part of Israel - the government planned to build a port city there.

When we were evacuated, it was very, very sad. My sister and I went to live in Kfar Saba. We finished our high school there. We were forced to move without our family.

My mother and father were among the last to leave. The soldiers packed up the house, because my mother and father couldn't do it, it was too hard emotionally. But we didn't use any violence.

My father believed until the last minute that something would change. He was very ideological about living there. [Leaving] was a disaster for him and it hurt him very much.

I think the peace deal is a huge benefit for us [Israel] and for them [the Egyptians] - if it stops soldiers dying, in a place where people die for land. Even though it's not peace like Switzerland and Italy have, it's still peace.

But personally, I think I just lost from it. It wasn't worth the sacrifice and the suffering of our family, it's a very heavy price to pay.

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