Even before the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed last month, the realization was growing that it had been far easier to work out that agreement than it will be to develop general and lasting peace between Israel and its other Arab neighbors. (See news story, p. 40.)
The ancient children of Israel wandered in the Sinai desert but never coveted it. But the West Bank of the Jordan, which was part of biblical Judea and Samaria, carries deep emotional associations to modern Israelis, even though few of them prefer to live there. (A majority of the Jewish “settlers” in the West Bank live in dormitory villages, drawn by subsidized rentals, and commute to jobs in Jerusalem.)
That is not to say that the treaty commitments are insignificant. The state of war that has existed between Israel and Egypt for thirty years is now ended. Negotiations on Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza begin this month. By Christmas, half of the Sinai Peninsula will have been returned to Egypt. By next January, Egypt and Israel will have exchanged ambassadors. The completion of West Bank-Gaza negotiations a year from now is an agreed-upon target.
The step that secured the treaty—clearing up minor outstanding issues unresolved at Camp David—was easier in substance than those which lie ahead. But in its effect it may prove to have been the most significant because it surmounted the emotional and psychological barriers and altered the terrain for the steps to follow.
We take satisfaction from the manner in which the treaty was achieved. In contrast to the Kissinger practice of realpolitik, avoiding moral judgments, and calculating how to exert power, President Carter has served as a true reconciler, willing to take risks in pursuit ...1
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