Now We Cut Aid?


Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com.

— by Steve Sheffey

The U.S. had no qualms about providing aid to Egypt during the repressive reign of Hosnai Mubarak. We continued aid to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood won a democratic election, and even after it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood was oppressing its people. Then the Egyptian military took over. And now we cut aid?

Some have argued that the military might have been doing the will of the people by removing the Brotherhood, and there is no question that Egypt’s opposition to Hamas and other radical groups helps the U.S. and Israel.

Jeff Goldberg, who thinks reducing aid to Egypt is a mistake, is concerned that cutbacks in aid to Egypt could upset American allies who share the same adversaries as Egypt (Shia radicalism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni extremism), relieve pressure on Hamas and thereby hinder the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and re-energize Islamic extremists.

But Goldberg also points out that a cutoff “may be a moral necessity:”

The Egyptian military seems unwilling to use tear gas on demonstrators when the opportunity to shoot opponents in the head presents itself, and it did, in fact, initiate a coup in July against a democratically elected government (albeit one that governed undemocratically and was the target of popular rage).

More after the jump.


We continued aid to Egypt even after it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood was oppressing its people. Anti-Brotherhood protest in Tahrir Square, Jan. 25.

The Administration is walking a very fine line by continuing some aid, such as counter-terrorism and Sinai security, but cutting certain big-ticket military items. On October 9, a senior Administration official said:

We wanted to be absolutely clear that we weren’t going to do anything that would put at risk our own security or Egypt’s security or some of our common interests. And so continuing with everything related to security in the Sinai, counterterrorism, sustainment of their capabilities there — I don’t think we’ve focused on that enough here, but we are also continuing with spare parts and what they need to continue to do the things that are in our mutual interest and help support the peace treaty with Israel. We didn’t want to do anything to put any of that at risk, and we believe that the bigger ticket items that we are not currently proceeding with don’t do that and our important security interests are thus preserved even while we are sending this important signal.

It appears that the Administration felt it had no choice but to take some symbolic action in response to the military’s harsh measures, while at the same time attempting to preserve the fundamentally important and solid strategic relationship with Egypt.

Remember that Egypt also has an incentive to preserve good relations with the U.S. It is too early to tell if the Administration once again managed to thread the needle (as it did in Syria), or if this is a mistake. We will see how it plays out.

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Obama: “Words Are Not Sufficient” for Iran

President Barack Obama met today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office. The two discussed the situations in Syria, Egypt and Iran. After their meeting, Obama and Netanyahu carried short remarks.

About Syria, Obama said:

We are both pleased that there is the possibility of finally getting chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria. But I think we both share a deep concern that we have to be able to verify and enforce what has now been agreed to at the United Nations. Chemical weapons inside of Syria obviously have threatened Syrian civilians, but over the long term also pose a threat to Israel. And we want to make sure that we get those indiscriminate, horrible weapons out of there.  

About Egypt, he said:

We continue to have concerns about what has happened in Egypt, but we also are committed to a constructive relationship with Egypt, in part because of the important role that the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israeli peace serve not only for the stability and security of both those countries, but also for security in the region and U.S. security.

About Iran, the President said:

It is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon. That is important for American security; it is important for Israeli security; it’s important for world security, because we do not want to trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world. And given the statements and actions from the Iranian regime in the past — the threats against Israel, the acts against Israel — it is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu commented:

I believe that it’s the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of those sanctions that has brought Iran to the negotiating table. I also believe that if diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place. And I think that they should not be lessened until there is verifiable success. And, in fact, it is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened.

Netanyahu also referred to the peace process with the Palestinian Arabs:

We know that for peace to endure, it must be based on Israel’s capacity to defend itself, by itself. And I hope that we can achieve an historic transformation that will give a better future for us and our Palestinian neighbors, and, who knows, one day with our other neighbors as well.

After the remarks, Obama was asked about the expected government shutdown at midnight, and replied:

The Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues, but that ensures that we’re not shutting down the government and we’re not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction and digging themselves out of the hole that we’ve had as a consequence of the financial crisis.

Full remarks after the jump.
Obama: Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu back to the Oval Office. I think I’ve had the pleasure of hosting him more often than just about any other world leader, and hopefully this will provide just some small measure of repayment for the wonderful visit that I had in Israel this spring. And I want to thank him and his family and his entire team for the tremendous hospitality that we had when we were there.

The Prime Minister and I were just talking about the fact these are hectic times, and nowhere is that more true, obviously, than in the Middle East. And so we had an opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion about a range of issues.  

I commended him for entering into good-faith negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in discussing how we can resolve what has been, obviously, one of the biggest challenges for a very long time in the region. And both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have assigned outstanding negotiators. They have been engaging in serious conversations. And our goal continues to be to help facilitate — not dictate, but facilitate — the kinds of genuine negotiations that will result in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.

And we have a limited amount of time to achieve that goal, and I appreciate the Prime Minister’s courage in being willing to step forward on behalf of that goal.

We had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria. Obviously, we have a broad set of strategic concerns in Syria. We are both pleased that there is the possibility of finally getting chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria. But I think we both share a deep concern that we have to be able to verify and enforce what has now been agreed to at the United Nations. Chemical weapons inside of Syria obviously have threatened Syrian civilians, but over the long term also pose a threat to Israel. And we want to make sure that we get those indiscriminate, horrible weapons out of there.  

And so we are consulting with the international community on these issues, and I shared with the Prime Minister our belief that we have to move with speed and dispatch in actually making sure that the agreement that was arrived at in the United Nations is followed through on.

In addition, we have the larger question of how to deal with the civil war that’s taking place in Syria. And given Israel’s significant interest in the spillover effects of activities there, we will be consulting very closely with them.

We had an opportunity to discuss Egypt, and I shared with him what I said at the United Nations just a week ago, which is that we continue to have concerns about what has happened in Egypt, but we also are committed to a constructive relationship with Egypt, in part because of the important role that the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israeli peace serve not only for the stability and security of both those countries, but also for security in the region and U.S. security.

So we will continue to work with the Egyptian government, although urging them and pushing them in a direction that is more inclusive and that meets the basic goals of those who originally sought for more freedom and more democracy in that country.

And we had an opportunity, obviously, to discuss Iran. Both the Prime Minister and I agree, since I came into office, that it is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon. That is important for American security; it is important for Israeli security; it’s important for world security, because we do not want to trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world. And given the statements and actions from the Iranian regime in the past — the threats against Israel, the acts against Israel — it is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.  

What I also shared with the Prime Minister is that, because of the extraordinary sanctions that we have been able to put in place over the last several years, the Iranians are now prepared, it appears, to negotiate. We have to test diplomacy. We have to see if, in fact, they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions. And we in good faith will approach them, indicating that it is our preference to resolve these issues diplomatically.

But we enter into these negotiations very clear-eyed. They will not be easy. And anything that we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.

So we will be in close consultation with Israel and our other friends and allies in the region during this process, and our hope is that we can resolve this diplomatically. But as President of the United States, I’ve said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.

In all of this, our unshakeable bond with the Israeli people is stronger than ever. Our commitment to Israel’s security is stronger than ever. And we are very much looking forward to continuing to work with our friends in Israel to make sure that the U.S. security interests are met, Israel’s security interests are met, but hopefully that we can also bring about greater peace and greater stability in a region that has been racked with violence and tensions for far too long.  

And I appreciate the Prime Minister’s views. He is always candid, and we’re always able to have not only a good working relationship at the prime ministerial level, but also because of the outstanding work that our staffs do.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome.  

Netanyahu: Mr. President, thank you for welcoming me and my delegation on what I know is a very busy day for you in Washington today.  

There are many things on your plate, but I know that you know and the American people know that there is no better ally — more reliable, more stable, more democratic — other than Israel in a very raw, dangerous place. So I welcome the opportunity that we’re having to discuss how we work closely together to address the enormous challenges that face both of us. And I think of those, the most important challenge is preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

I appreciate deeply the fact that you have made clear that you remain committed to this goal. I also appreciate the statement you made that Iran’s conciliatory words have to be matched by real actions — transparent, verifiable, meaningful actions.  

Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction. So for Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program. We have a saying in Hebrew, we call it mivchan hatotza’a (“the test of outcome”) — you would say it in English, what’s the bottom line? And the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.  

In this regard, I want to express my appreciation to you for the enormous work that’s been done to have a sanctions regime in place to thwart Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. I believe that it’s the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of those sanctions that has brought Iran to the negotiating table.

I also believe that if diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place. And I think that they should not be lessened until there is verifiable success. And, in fact, it is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened. It’s the combination, I believe, that has guided your policy and our policy so far, that is good credible military threat and strong sanctions I think is still the only formula that can get a peaceful resolution of this problem.

Mr. President, we discussed many of these, but I want to use this opportunity to thank you, Secretary of State Kerry and others in your administration for helping to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I remain committed to that peace. And I hope that our efforts — our common efforts — would lead to a secure and lasting peace.  

We know that for peace to endure, it must be based on Israel’s capacity to defend itself, by itself. And I hope that we can achieve an historic transformation that will give a better future for us and our Palestinian neighbors, and, who knows, one day with our other neighbors as well.

So I want to thank you again for your hospitality, for your efforts, and it’s very, very good to see you again.

Q: Mr. President, are you resigned to a government shutdown at this point? And given how close we are to the midnight deadline, have you had any conversations with Speaker Boehner over the past few days?

Obama: I am not at all resigned. And I’ll have a chance to obviously speak more to this. I’m going to have a Cabinet meeting this afternoon and may have some further thoughts for the press as the day goes on. But the bottom line is that the Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues, but that ensures that we’re not shutting down the government and we’re not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction and digging themselves out of the hole that we’ve had as a consequence of the financial crisis.

I’ve said before, Congress has two responsibilities: Pass a budget, pay the bills. And I am not only open to but eager to have negotiations around a long-term budget that makes sure that we’re investing in middle-class families, helping the economy grow, giving people who are working hard a leg up, and greater security and stability and deals with some of our long-term challenges in terms of debt and deficits.

But the only way to do that is for everybody to sit down in good faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a government shutdown, and certainly we can’t have any kind of meaningful negotiations under the cloud of potential default, the first in U.S. history.

There’s not a world leader, if you took a poll, who would say that it would be responsible or consistent with America’s leadership in the world for us not to pay our bills. We are the foundation of the world economy and the world financial system. And our currency is the reserve currency of the world. We don’t mess with that. And we certainly don’t allow domestic policy differences on issues that are unrelated to the budget to endanger not only our economy but the world economy. So I suspect that I will speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow, and the next day.

But there’s a pretty straightforward solution to this. If you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long term here, what it simply requires is everybody to act responsibly and do what’s right for the American people.  

All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  

Don’t Cut Off Aid to Egypt


Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen http://www.drybonesblog.blogsp…

— by Steve Sheffey

What is going on in Egypt is terrible. But we should not cut off aid to Egypt, at least not yet. Several authorities whom I respect say we should cut off aid to Egypt, but I am not sure that anything happening now should affect our rationale for providing military aid to Egypt. Aid at the current level began after the Egypt signed its peace agreement with Israel. Its purpose is to promote military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel, which enhances regional stability and is in the best interests of the United States.

We gave aid when Sadat oppressed the Egyptians. We gave aid when Mubarek oppressed the Egyptians. We gave aid when the Muslim Brotherhood, whose values are antithetical to our values, was elected. Many thought that the Brotherhood would never give up power, much as Hamas has never given up power in Gaza after winning a democratic election. We will never know.

Now, the Egyptian military has killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members. Bad things are currently happening to bad people. But the reasons for providing aid to Egypt remain valid. Could aid to a repressive regime make the Egyptians hate America? They are oppressing the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Muslim Brotherhood already hates Americans. There is no reason to believe that cutting off American aid to Egypt would turn the military into angels. If we cut off aid, we could remain with the same killing on the streets, plus less military and intelligence cooperation. How does that help? Unless we have a good reason to believe that military and intelligence cooperation will continue without U.S. aid, we should be very wary of reducing the current level of assistance.

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Menendez: Security Cooperation With Israel Has Never Been Better

— by Jason Berger

Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) arrived in Israel. Upon his arrival, he published an op-ed in Ha’aretz, detailing his views and opinions on issues most prevalent to the Jewish state.

On the US-Israel Relationship, he wrote:

Some in Washington look at the challenges in the new Middle East and advocate disengagement. I strongly disagree. We cannot stand up for America’s interests — or Israel’s — from the sidelines. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and engage in support of our ideals, values and interests.

More after the jump.


Courtsey of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen

The U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than it has ever been. And our support is growing with investments in the Iron Dome missile defense system, training and joint military exercises, intelligence cooperation, and partnerships in research and development for military equipment.

Senior U.S. and Israeli defense officials will tell you our security cooperation has never been better — and for good reason. Today, America and Israel face a region in turmoil and increasingly complex and pressing threats.

On Iran:

Its provocative actions threaten not only U.S. national security and regional stability, but pose an existential threat to Israel. Iran continues to export terrorist activity directly and through proxies, like Hezbollah. It actively supports the Assad regime in Syria with fighters, arms and petroleum. And its drive for nuclear weapons is accelerating.

We cannot allow the Iranians to continue to stall through talks while simultaneously bringing hundreds of new centrifuges online, which is why I have led the efforts in the U.S. Senate to impose crippling sanctions that have cut Iran’s oil exports in half. We need to toughen those sanctions to further reduce purchases of Iranian oil. We need to prevent Iran from buying dual use items on the international market that benefit its nuclear program and we need to explore options for increasing military pressure on Iran to make clear that we will take all necessary steps to prevent a nuclear capable Iran, including the military option if all others fail.

On Egypt:

Egypt also presents a dynamic set of challenges. We must encourage Egypt to work with the IMF to stabilize its economy and pursue longer-term institutional reforms that will allow democracy to gain a foothold. At the same time, we will make clear that U.S. aid to Egypt is not a blank check, which is why Congress has made our assistance to Egypt contingent on upholding the 1979 Peace Treaty.

On the peace process:

As for the peace process, it has always been my position that we must move toward an acceptable two-state solution. We have seen new momentum with Secretary Kerry’s personal diplomacy. The rekindling of the Arab Peace Initiative and new investments in the Palestinian economy are positive steps. I am hopeful that we can resume negotiations and avoid distractions and grandstanding at inappropriate venues like the United Nations.

White House Condemns Morsi’s Anti-Semitic Statements

— by David Streeter

President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney forcefully condemned previous anti-Semitic comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Politico reported:

“President Morsi should make clear he respects people of all faiths”, Carney said during a press briefing Tuesday. He said the administration has raised its concerns with the Egyptian government: “[...] We have raised our concerns over these remarks with the government of Egypt”.

“We strongly condemn these comments”, he said. “[...] This type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt”.

Carney added that the remarks are an example of the type of discourse that has long fanned hatred in the region:

“We believe that language like that is too tolerated in the region”, he said. “[...] It is counter to peace”.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Travels to the Middle-East

Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.  

Details follow the jump.
Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm.  As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful.

She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security.  She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides.

 

Sec. Clinton Meets with Peres and Other Leaders in Israel

— by Max Samis

As part of her current overseas diplomatic trip, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently in the State of Israel, her fourth such trip during her time in office. During her visit, Clinton is expected to discuss a wide range of topics with a number of prominent Israeli leaders.

Ilon Ben Zion of The Times of Israel reported:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Israel early Monday morning for a two-day visit following a trip to Egypt. She was accompanied by US Middle East envoy David Hale and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.

Clinton met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem Monday morning and was set to hold meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day. She will also meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at her hotel in Jerusalem. This is Clinton’s fourth visit to Israel since taking office…

During her visit, Clinton is also expected to try to make inroads in restarting direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Clinton will likely ask the Israeli government to release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo peace process, and will ask President Mahmoud Abbas to refrain from requesting observer state status from the UN.

Upon landing, Clinton paid a visit to the residence of Israel President Shimon Peres, where the two leaders held a joint press conference. Barak Ravid of Haaretz wrote:

Talking to the press, Clinton said, ‘It is a time of uncertainty but also of a big opportunity in the region. At times like these friends like us need to work together in a smart, creative and courageous way…’

Following his meeting with Clinton, Peres said that, Egypt is a key state in the region and that Israel wants to uphold the peace treaty with Egypt. ‘We respect the results of the elections in Egypt, and hope for another 30 years of peace,’ he said.

Peres added that he was convinced that there is international understanding of the danger that the Iranian regime represents to the world, and highlighted that the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran have started to work.

‘I hope that Iran will return to its rich legacy and be a country that does not threaten anyone, and no one makes threats against,’ he said.

More after the jump.
Greer Fay Cashman of The Jerusalem Post also reported:

Clinton praised Peres, saying no other individual had done so much to build the alliance between Israel and the US. ‘Few people know the inextricable link between security and peace,’ she stated.

Peres was also complimentary of Clinton, referring to her as ‘a constant friend’ who is “blowing the wind of freedom all over the world.”

Peres told Clinton that he appreciated the fact that she came to Israel immediately after Egypt because Egypt is the key country in the Middle East and it depends on Egypt and Israel to continue the march of freedom for the whole of the region.

Peres reiterated what he has frequently said, that peace between Israel and Egypt has saved the lives of thousands of Egyptians and Israelis.

You can watch the video of Clinton’s remarks here or below. You can also see photos from Clinton’s visit with Peres below. The full transcript of Clinton’s remarks can also be read here.

Clinton also paid a visit to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, where she spoke with Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Speaking to the staff and families of the embassy and consulate, Clinton said:

But mostly I wanted to say thank you to all of you for the work that you do every single day here in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv supporting the extraordinarily important ties between the United States and Israel, working with the Palestinian Authority on so many of the issues that are critically important, assisting a huge number of Americans who visit this area, and of course, continuing our commitment as we seek to support a lasting peace. You are working at the forefront of one of our most important and challenging diplomatic efforts. Here in the Consulate General you are assisting with development and security, helping to build the infrastructure for a future Palestinian state. In the Embassy you’re sustaining one of our most important alliances, building the people-to-people connections that are so important to our relationship. And over the last year and a half, you’ve all continued to promote American interests amid the turbulence and unpredictable circumstances of the changes sweeping the region.

Looking at all of you is very reassuring. I read cables. I get reports. But I like seeing you in person. And it’s not just because you handle so many complex issues with great poise and professionalism, but it’s also frankly because this group represents the sort of collaboration across ethnicities and faiths that is so essential in the 21st century. It’s essential to move toward the goals of bringing people together, of finding common ground, and of building a future based on mutual respect and mutual interests…

So from President Obama and myself, thank you. Thank you for your exemplary service, your commitment, for representing the United   States so well. We may not always say it, but we know it, and whenever I get a chance to say it, I try to do so because I want you to hear it: We know what you’re doing and we appreciate it very, very much.

Click here to read her full remarks.

Clinton also met with Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, discussing the various security needs facing Israel and the ongoing cooperation between the two countries. Stuart Winer of The Times of Israel, along with the AP, wrote:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday saying the bonds between Israel and America are strong.

‘The Americans consistently and constantly backup Israel’s security needs,’ Barak said in the meeting.

Clinton’s remarks from her meeting with Barak can be read here.

Clinton is also expected to attend a dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this evening, followed by a press conference in Jerusalem.

Clinton is just the latest official from the Obama administration to visit Israel, following National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and ahead of the just-announced visit by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

AFP, When the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty?

While some are raising concerns about the future of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty now that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate has won Egypt’s presidential race, AFP has a different issue with the historic bilateral agreement. Today AFP refers to “1980, the year after Cairo signed its peace agreement with Tel Aviv.” (Emphasis added.)

AFP would hardly be the first to relocate Israel’s capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but the misinformation is all the more jarring in light of then-President Anwar Sadat’s unprecedented trip to Jerusalem in 1978, paving the way to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.

Perhaps AFP would do well to review its own archives from that time, including this AFP photograph of Sadat addressing the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in the capital city, Jerusalem:

AFP’s own caption reads:

Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) addresses the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem 20 November 1977 during his historic visit to Israel, as Israeli Premier Yitzhak Begin (C) listens to him. Thirty years ago, the Egyptian leader became the first Arab leader to visit the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/FILES

Anwar Sadat’s obituary in the New York Times states:

Eleven days before Mr. Sadat made his trip to Jerusalem, he said in Cairo that he was willing to go to ”the ends of the earth,” and even to the Israeli Parliament, in the cause of peace. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.

His eyes were moist and his lips taut with suppressed emotion as he arrived, but his Arabic was firm and resonant when, hours later, he told the hushed Israeli Parliament, ”If you want to live with us in this part of the world, in sincerity I tell you that we welcome you among us with all security and safety.

In 1978, the leader of the Egyptian nation, which at the time was in a state of war with Israel, could bring himself to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but in 2012, AFP cannot?

Reprinted from CAMERA