Did Egyptian President Anwar Sadat do Israel a favor when in May 1973 he rejected an initiative by Henry Kissinger that could have restored Egyptian sovereignty to all of Sinai and instead opted to launch the bloody Yom Kippur War that October?
Yitzhak Rabin relates in “The Rabin Memoirs” that early in 1973 Prime Minister Golda Meir gave Kissinger the green light to discuss his proposal with the Egyptians. Under the plan, Egyptian sovereignty was to be restored to all of Sinai in exchange for Egypt agreeing to an Israeli military
presence – possibly disguised as a civilian presence – in certain strategic positions, such as Sharm el-Sheikh.
On the face of it the very suggestion that the Jewish State was somehow better off losing thousands of soldiers rather than cutting such a deal sounds ludicrous.
But one has to consider this in its historical context.
The pre-1973 Israeli defense establishment was even more recklessly sure of itself than the current Israeli brass that only recently took a temporary break from pushing for Israel to hand over the Golan Heights to Assad in exchange for a piece of paper.
How would the Kissinger plan have played out?
Here is a hint:
Less than three years earlier, in August 1970, Egypt violated an American brokered and guaranteed cease-fire agreement literally the day it went into effect by moving SAM anti-aircraft batteries up to the Suez Canal. The U.S. declined to insist on Egyptian compliance and those same SAM’s provided critical cover for the 1973 Egyptian Sinai invasion.
We paid a tremendous price in 1973 to learn the lesson of the dangers of overconfidence and of underestimating one’s enemies. A lesson only
partially learned at that.
But in the absence of that terrible nightmare, it is certainly conceivable that we could have entered into an arrangement with Egypt that might have
literally lead to our destruction through a deadly combination of superficial security arrangements and a cavalier attitude towards Egyptian
It certainly is a painful idea. But it’s hardly beyond the scope of possibilities.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
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