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Israeli And Egyptian Accord - What Now?

April 25, 1979 became a historic date in the history of Middle East politics. On the evening of that day the 31-year-old state of war between Israel and Egypt ended officially with the ratification of the Washington peace treaty. At the Khosheiba observation post at the head of the Giddi Pass in the Sinai desert the two antagonists pledged themselves that in future they would abandon war was an instrument of policy.

Readers will recall that it was in November 1977 that President Sadat astounded the world by his sudden dramatic journey to Jerusalem. It was evident at the time that unless the Arab/Israeli stalemate could be broken a further outbreak of armed conflict in the Middle East was inevitable. Because both Israel and Egypt were desperately anxious to avoid such a catastrophe President Sadat's bold initiative was greeted with spontaneous outbursts of relief in Jerusalem and Cairo. This early euphoria, however, was short-lived. As President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin spelled out their terms for peace the gap separating them showed no sign of narrowing. There were angry exchanges between them, and within a few weeks the two leaders who had been photographed in Jerusalem in friendly embrace, were as far apart as ever. Discussions ended in complete deadlock, and the high hopes that the first steps on the road to a Middle East settlement had been taken were shattered.

This desperate turn of events was viewed with dismay in the U.S.A. If the return to stalemate persisted armed conflict seemed unavoidable. It was no surprise therefore when President Carter intervened personally in an endeavour to get the two contestants talking again. Eventually, after much behind-the-scenes diplomacy, he persuaded President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to meet with him at Camp David in a supreme attempt to resolve their differences. The outcome of those talks is now history. They were conducted in strict secrecy and their very length, said the pundits, indicated that President Carter's well-meaning intervention had proved futile. Not so! After 13 days' hard bargaining the three statesmen emerged from their Summit Conference with comprehensive proposals for peace. Two documents had been drawn up and these were duly signed. One of them made provision for a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt to be ratified by the end of 1978.

But the signing of that treaty was held up by numerous quibbles and arguments. Again there was pessimistic comment in the press. Would the peace initiative founder before the treaty could be ratified? Early this year the situation became so delicate that it was necessary for President Carter to visit Jerusalem and Cairo to revive the flagging negotiations. Even when the officials of the respect. We Foreign Ministries met in the Sinai desert on April 25th there was a four-hour delay in the ratification ceremony while a disputed word was sorted out!

At the time of writing discussions are under way to monitor a phased withdrawal by Israel from occupied territory in the Sinai desert. This is the first step. Far more formidable are the problems to be resolved in Gaza and the West Bank. No solution of these acceptable to both parties is yet in sight.

The new accord between Israel and Egypt has brought confusion in the Arab world. President Sadat has been branded as a traitor to the Arab cause. To mark their hostility to the treaty eight states have recalled their Ambassadors and severed diplomatic relations with Egypt. Economic sanctions have been threatened, including an oil embargo. Middle East politics are once more in the melting pot. One thing is clear:

Israel and Egypt are now the most isolated countries in that troubled area. How do these unforeseen developments fit into the framework of Biblical prophecy? In answer to that question we repeat what we said here some months ago: We know from Scripture that whatever transpires from the present efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis, the destiny of "Immanuel's land" is fixed, certain and glorious.

Endpiece

"Divine prophecies have springing and germinent accomplishment throughout many ages, though the height or fulness of them may belong to some one age". (Francis Bacon)