Our standard recommendation to Israel is that it should move quickly to achieve agreements with the Arab states and the stateless Palestinians before it is too late.
And the Israeli response is that there is no urgency to make peace — except on Israeli terms — because Israel is strong and the Arabs are weak.
The most egregious example of this phenomenon comes from Egypt, where in 1971 President Anwar Sadat offered to begin negotiations toward peace in exchange for a two-mile wide Israeli withdrawal from the east bank of the Suez Canal, which Israel had captured along with the rest of the Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 war.
Learning from history
The Nixon administration told the Israeli government to explore the idea because Sadat was intent on going to war if he did not get his territory back.
The peace camp in Israel and its allies here urged Israel to follow Nixon’s advice and hear Sadat out. The lobby, of course, told Nixon to mind his own business.
As for the Israeli cabinet, it told Nixon’s emissary, Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco, that it had no interest in discussing Egypt’s offer. It voted for keeping all of the Sinai Peninsula and sending Egypt a simple message: no. After all, the Egyptians had shown just four years earlier that they were no match for the IDF.
Two years later, the Egyptians attacked, and within hours all of Israel’s positions along the canal were overrun and its soldiers killed. By the time the war ended, Israel had lost 3,000 soldiers and almost the state itself. And then, a few years later, it gave up the entire Sinai anyway – not just the two-mile strip Egypt had demanded in 1971.
The peace camp was proven right. But I don’t recall anyone being happy about it. On the contrary, we were devastated. 3,000 Israelis (and thousands more Egyptians) were killed in a war that might have been prevented if the Israeli government had simply agreed to talk. READ HERE