Thursday, January 16, 2014

Golda Meir and Anwar Sadar Exchange Messages, January 1974

"When I made my [political] initiative in 1971, I meant it; when I threatened war, I meant it; when I now talk of permanent peace between us, I mean it." This was the message from President Anwar Sadat given to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shortly before the signing of the Disengagement Agreement between Israel and Egypt (Sinai I) on January 18, 1974. You can see it on our website in a short publication of 6 documents in English to mark the 40th anniversary of the agreement.

The next day Golda replied that she hoped that their contact through Kissinger would prove to be a turning point in their relations, and repeated Sadat's words: "When I talk of permanent peace between us I mean it." Only three months after the Yom Kippur War, when they had led their countries in a bloody and costly conflict, the two leaders exchanged messages expressing goodwill and the desire for peace between them.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was the first person to propose a separation of forces in a government meeting on October 27, 1973. The war had just ended, but sporadic firing continued and continued to bring casualties. The smoke still lingered on the battlefields and a grieving Israel was anxious for a ceasefire and a political solution which would allow the IDF to withdraw from its dangerously overextended lines on the western bank of the Suez Canal. Over the coming weeks, the plan underwent a series of changes in talks with the Egyptians at the 101 Kilometer talks and through Secretary Kissinger, until it reached its final form in a shuttle by Kissinger between Cairo and Jerusalem. The signing of the agreement marked a historic change in the relations between Israel and Egypt and the first withdrawal from territories occupied in the Six Day War.

Ten days later Sadat and Golda again exchanged messages on the need to advance a disengagement agreement with Syria. These messages also appear in the publication together with the text of the Sinai I agreement and its secret annexes, and the memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel. We've already talked here about the negotiations with Syria and the opposition to them in Israel. On May 31, the agreement with Syria was signed, the last act of Golda Meir's government following her resignation.

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