Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein..
(photo credit: ISAAC HARARI / KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Forty years after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat paid a historic visit to Israel, the Knesset is holding a series of special events marking the occasion, which led to the establishment of the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state.
"Dozens of foreign heads of state visited the Knesset both before and since Sadat's visit. Every visit has its memorable moments, but what happened here 40 years ago was extraordinary, if only because of what came afterwards. It was a real breakthrough," said Knesset Speaker Yoel 'Yuli' Edelstein in his opening remarks.
Edelstein recalled details from the visit, which culminated in a historic address by the Egyptian President, who, just four years earlier, had led a bloody war against the Jewish state. Edelstein noted in particular a statement by former president Shimon Peres, who said at the time that "In Israel, there is no opposition to peace."
"Despite all the difficulties and challenges that we faced then, and will likely face in the future, we need to remember that sentence today, too," said Edelstein.
Egypt's ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, the sole Egyptian representative at the event, stressed that Cairo is as ready today as it was 40 years ago to work at establishing a regional peaceful solution
to the Israeli-Arab crisis, but stressed that that solution could only come after a just solution is found for the Palestinian issue. The ambassador offered a quote from Sadat's own speech, saying: "We must all rise above all forms of fanaticism, self-deception and obsolete theories of superiority. The most important thing is never to forget that infallibility is the prerogative of God alone."
Deputy Foreign Minster Tzipi Hotovely, who represented the government at the event, said she was born into peace between the people, but cast doubt over the possibility of reaching the same end with the Palestinians.
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"The reason people like me oppose peace is the principle of the right of return," she said. "Seven million refugees flooding the Middle East spell the end of the State of Israel. If we don't recognize the problem, we cannot reach a solution."
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