When Egyptian President Anwar Sadat addressed the Knesset

A look back at the Egyptian President's speech to Israeli lawmakers 43 years ago.

Former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Egyptian parliament before traveling to Israel, 1977 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
Former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addresses the Egyptian parliament before traveling to Israel, 1977
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made history on November 20, 1977 when he became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel to meet with then Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and spoke to the Knesset.
Coming four years after Egyptian forces attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War, Sadat addressed Israeli lawmakers on how to achieve peace between the two nations and a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In his opening remarks to the Knesset, Sadat said, "I come to you today on solid ground, to shape a new life, to establish peace. We all, on this land, the land of God; we all, Muslims, Christians and Jews, worship God and no one but God. God's teachings and commandments are love, sincerity, purity and peace."
"After long thinking, I was convinced that the obligation of responsibility before God, and before the people, make it incumbent on me that I should go to the farthest corner of the world, even to Jerusalem, to address Members of the Knesset, the representatives of the People of Israel, and acquaint them with all the facts surging in me. Then, I would leave you to decide for yourselves. Following this, may God Almighty determine our fate."
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin clasp hands with US president Jimmy Carter after the landmark ‘Framework for Peace in the Middle East’ was signed on the White House lawn. (Moshe Milner/GPO)Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin clasp hands with US president Jimmy Carter after the landmark ‘Framework for Peace in the Middle East’ was signed on the White House lawn. (Moshe Milner/GPO)
In his own address to the Knesset, Begin spoke of his hope for peace with Israel's largest Arab neighbor. "Today, Jerusalem is bedecked with two flags - the Egyptian and the Israeli. Together, Mr. President, we have seen our little children waving both flags," the prime minister said.
"Let us sign a peace treaty and establish such a situation forever, both in Jerusalem and in Cairo. I hope the day will come when Egyptian children will wave Israeli and Egyptian flags together, just as the Israeli children are waving both of these flags together in Jerusalem."
Despite expressing hope for peace, Sadat was adamanat that Israel needed to withdraw from any territory conquered in the Six Day War of 1967 and allow the Palestinains their right to self-determination, including their right to establish their own state.
"Peace is not the mere endorsement of written lines; rather, it is a rewriting of history," Sadat finished his speech. "Peace is not a game of calling for peace to defend certain whims or hide certain ambitions. Peace is a giant struggle against all and every ambition and whim.
"To every man, woman and child in Israel, I say: encourage your leadership to struggle for peace. Let all endeavours be channelled towards building a huge edifice for peace, instead of strongholds and hideouts defended by destructive rockets. Introduce to the entire world the image of the new man in this area, so that he might set an example to the man of our age, the man of peace everywhere."
The visit laid the groundwork for the 1978 Camp David Accords - in turn the framework for the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, Israel's first with an Arab nation and former adversary. Both Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize following the treaty.
As a result of the peace treaty Egypt was suspended from the Arab League for three years, and combined with internal unrest in Egypt, let to Sadat's  assassination October 6, 1981 by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
THEN-PRIME MINISTER Menachem Begin, with Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, visit Congress in 1978 (Reuters)THEN-PRIME MINISTER Menachem Begin, with Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, visit Congress in 1978 (Reuters)