From our files: Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed
On this day in history, 1979, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was signed.
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The subdued tone on an occasion which ought at first glance to call for more celebration seemed to be due to a realization on all sides that:
- The hard bargaining in the new relationship between Egypt and Israel comes only after the signing.
- The development of peace in the Middle East as a whole depends on reactions that are not under the control of any of the parties to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty-reactions from the Palestinians, from Jordan, and from Saudi Arabia, to mention the most important.
- The cost of peace is to be greater to the United States, in terms of economic and military assistance, than was the cost of the no-war, no-peace situation that existed for so long between Egypt and Israel.
As details of the documents to be signed are disclosed, it becomes clear the US is assuming moral and written obligations almost as extensive as the treaty commitments Egypt and Israel have taken on themselves.
In the Egyptian view, in particular, much of the burden for seeing to it that the treaty to be implemented is to be borne by the United States. And, as the Egyptians see it, President Carter has committed the US to contributing heavily as well as to an uplifting of the "masses from poverty," no small task when it comes to a country with Egypt's enormous economic and financial problems.
For Israel, there will be a "memorandum of agreement" with the United States, a backup document to the peace treaty, which provides that the US consult and coordinate with Israel on possible military and political actions by the US should Egypt violate the peace treaty.
A State Department official, in a background briefing for reporters given on the understanding that he not be quoted by name, stressed that this memorandum did not amount to a defense treaty between the US and Israel. He also said it was being signed only after extensive consultations with Congress. And he emphasized that the US was not committed to taking any specific actions, but reserved its own judgment on what actions should be taken in the event of Egyptian violations.