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Sadat's Peace Initiative

One of the more surprising events in Arab-Israeli relations came in 1977. That year, in a radical departure from all past Arab policy, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat indicated his willingness to travel to Israel and address the Israeli parliament. Once he was there, Sadat expressed a desire to find solutions for the ongoing conflict and to live in peace. It was the first time an Arab leader had traveled to Israel and the move symbolically demonstrated Egypt’s recognition of Israel’s existence as a state.

Sadat’s initiative was all the more remarkable when the reaction of other Arab countries was taken into account. The move toward reconciliation with Israel was seen as a betrayal of the common Arab cause, particularly as it related to the Palestinian refugee problem. Egypt became an outcast among the larger Arab community and even had its membership in the Arab League suspended for a period of time.

Sadat's Peace Initiative had no effect on the Palestinian refugee problem as he agreed to conclude a peace with Israel without pursuing any concessions for the refugees.

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