The Progressive Assembly of National Unionists was established in 1977 as the official “left” party of Egypt. One of three legal national parties, its leadership was drawn from the ranks of leftist intellectuals, some former communists, who had chosen during the Nasser era to work within the Arab Socialist Union in uneasy alliance with the dominant Nasserist forces. As an official party, its relationship to the Nasserists has remained tenuous, while its relations with the Sadat regime have grown increasingly acrimonious. Although Sadat’s commitment to “democracy” has so far precluded the banning of the party, arrests of its members and the fact that possession of its documents such as the one below is an illegal act have greatly circumscribed its activities. The party’s membership lists and electoral record show meager support, but in the present climate of oppression and electoral tampering such figures have little meaning. The party has clearly tried to walk a narrow political line between the clandestine communist group and the official parties that support the regime. The following document, proscribed in Egypt, offers a trenchant critique of Sadat’s policy toward Israel in the somewhat indiscriminate mix of leftist and Nasserist ideas that has become the party’s hallmark. The declaration was debated in the General Secretariat. It was unanimously adopted on March 23, 1979 and signed by all 37 members present.

Since President Sadat’s visit to Israel in November 1977, our party has been exposing the dangers of the path chosen by the Egyptian negotiator to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Our party perceived that the direct result of this policy was the cancellation of the Geneva Conference, and that this path would lead, whether we liked it or not, to a separate peace with Israel.

Such a separate solution could only be a lame solution, at both the Arab and Egyptian levels, lt has been obtained at the price of Egyptian economic and political concessions, to say nothing of the negative consequences of Egypt’s isolation…. The psychological barrier between Egypt and Israel which the visit of the president of the republic breached, according to what we have heard, has been replaced by a psychological barrier between Egypt and her Arab sisters, along with an escalation of hatred and animosity toward Arabs and Palestinians in Egypt.

From the beginning, our party has demanded a halt to this unbridled race of initiatives because it constitutes an obstacle on the road to peace (which we all desire). It also leads, in actuality, whatever the intentions, to the facilitation of imperialist projects aimed at the destruction of the unity, liberation and social and economic progress of the Arab world.

Today, the initiative of President Sadat, with his signature of the treaty with Israel, has reached its logical conclusion in a political climate very different from that which characterized the objectives President Sadat expressed to the Knesset.

President Sadat declared to the Knesset: “I have not come here to conclude a separate accord between Egypt and Israel because any separate peace will not be an equitable peace in the region as long as the Palestinian problem remains unsolved.” And today, the Palestinian problem remains unsolved, indeed unlinked to the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, even within the limits of the Israeli conception “of “autonomy.”

President Sadat declared to the Knesset: “Egypt refuses a partial peace, in the sense of ending the state of war caused by this problem but delaying its solution for another stage.” And now, with the state of war between Egypt and Israel ended, the problem in all its dimensions, with the Palestinian question at the center, is more acute and more explosive than at any time since the October war.

President Sadat declared to the Knesset: “Egypt insists on the complete withdrawal from all occupied territories including the Arab part of Jerusalem because it is not acceptable to devise a special status for Jerusalem in the context of annexation and expansion. Jerusalem ought to be open and accessible to all believers.” And now we hear Menachem Begin declare to the Knesset, only two days before the signing of the treaty, that Israel will never withdraw to the 1967 borders, will never return all the occupied territories, and will never relinquish Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel—never divide it again or return the Arab section of Jerusalem to Arab sovereignty.

President Sadat declared to the Knesset that “it is fruitless not to recognize the Palestinian people as well as their rights to the creation of their state and a return to their homeland.” And now treaty negotiations between Egypt and Israel have resulted in the confirmation of the Camp David accords, refusing the creation of a Palestinian state and postponing negotiations for “autonomy” for Palestinians to a later stage.

None of the Israeli positions have changed since the time of Sadat’s intiative. Begin’s conception of peace has been implemented while the five-point peace plan outlined by President Sadat has not.

  • The occupation of Arab territory has not ended.
  • The creation of a Palestinian state has not taken place.
  • The right of all parties to secure borders has not been obtained.
  • The establishment of relations governed by the Charter of the United Nations has not taken place. The peace is being constructed far from the United Nations under the sole aegis of the United States.
  • The end of war has not come. Only Egypt has left the arena of confrontation with Israel, while that arena has expanded with the addition of Iran, a non-Arab Islamic state.

The implementation of “peace” under these conditions not only prejudices the cause of peace in the Middle East and the inalienable Arab and Palestinian rights, but also the national rights of Egypt to sovereignty over its territory, to its national prestige, and to its international position.

What we have discussed above represents only what we have been able to deduce from the documents relating to the treaty published at this time. They suffice, however, to underline to what extent the sovereignty of Egypt has been violated. We again list the blows to our sovereignty in a few essential points, by way of example and not as an exhaustive account.

  • Disarmament and arms limitation in the Sinai so that Egypt now has two categories of borders just as Carter recommended at the beginning of his involvement: its historic political borders and its defensible borders along the Suez Canal.
  • The treaty and its annexes do not specify a time limit for any of its measures. The revision of any clause, and any modification or abrogation, depends on the agreement of Israel.
  • The exchange of ambassadors after the first withdrawal, while a third of the Sinai—still containing Israeli installations—is occupied by Israeli troops.
  • Normalization of remaining political relations, and of all economic, cultural and tourist relations, within six months of the first withdrawal while Egyptian territory is still occupied.
  • Egypt is forbidden to use the Sinai airstrips for non-civilian purposes.
  • Egypt engages to guarantee Israel freedom of passage in the straits and the Suez Canal, beginning at the time of the treaty’s ratification and before the commencement of any Israeli withdrawal.
  • The fact that all these stipulations are written into the treaty itself or of its annexes means that anything relating to one of these stipulations relates also to the Israeli-Egyptian peace as a whole and thus reduces the freedom and sovereignty of Egypt to make any other decision.
  • The status of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo, at a time when Israeli forces occupy Egyptian territory, reminds us of the status of Great Britain and its high commissioner in Egypt. Israel enjoys a special and privileged position within our country. The impact of this position will appear when Egypt has to make delicate decisions, such as deciding on oil sales and defining its official policy toward the Arabs.

Finally, it makes sense to investigate the reasons why the clauses of the treaty, which impose heavy obligations on Egypt concerning normalization of its relations with Israel, were synchronized only with the first Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. Egypt has renounced, in compensation for this partial withdrawal, all the trump cards it previously possessed to pressure Israel. How can it, then, assure a definitive Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai? We therefore believe that the final withdrawal will not come unless Israel is certain, through the normalization of relations, that Egypt is so well in hand that it has no need to continue the occupation of Egyptian territory.

Our party is officially opposed to what the Camp David accords called “autonomy for the Palestinians” as an alternative to the right of the Palestinian people to erect an independent state, a right recognized by the international community and sanctioned by international law which has been unanimously supported by the Arab states at several “summits,” most notably the Rabat summit. Our party is opposed to the so-called autonomy because:

First, it legitimizes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, lt does not require Israel to withdraw its troops of occupation but merely redeploys them….

Second, it has not ended the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza….

Third, the international practice in effect at the United Nations calls for elections only after the evacuation of occupation forces and only under the aegis of the United Nations. The UN resolutions on Namibia and Zimbabwe are very clear in this regard. Nevertheless, this condition is nowhere stipulated for elections surrounding the so-called autonomy for the Palestinians.

Fourth, what Israel proposed and what Egypt accepted for the Palestinians is reminiscent of what the South African government proposed for Transkei and the bantustans—a proposal rejected by the five Western powers.

Fifth, “autonomy” applies to the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and not to the entirety of the Palestinian people as a national entity, lt does not even apply to the territory of Palestine….

Sixth, Egypt’s acceptance of the Camp David decisions pertaining to this so-called autonomy implies Egypt’s acceptance of Menachem Begin’s Zionist assertion: namely, that all the land of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza, are “liberated Israeli territory”….

The basic surrender of Palestinian rights is clearly expressed in the Camp David accords, which purposely fail to mention the Palestinian peoples’ right to sovereignty over their land, their right to self-determination and their right to erect their own independent state in Palestine. Begin continues to insist that the establishment of a Palestinian state and relations with the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, are both out of the question.

Only recent events in the region, notably in Iran, threatening vital interests of the United States, gave the negotiations a second wind. The American president was impelled to visit the region, revive the negotiations, and impose the signing of a treaty.

The Egyptian-Israeli treaty was concluded in special political circumstances to answer to needs and pressures that have nothing to do with the Middle East conflict or the needs and situations of the Arab parties who wish an equitable, permanent and comprehensive peace. The treaty answers to the imperatives of American strategic interests at a global level. It answers to the need to establish a pact in the Middle East to replace CENTO…. Not by chance was Carter’s visit to Egypt and Israel accompanied by American fleet maneuvers aimed at the Gulf and the southern Arabian peninsula. The visit also coincided with a decision to establish a fifth American fleet in the Indian Ocean, opposite Arab shores, to protect the oil supplies of the Western world. At the same time, F-15 fighters were supplied to Saudi Arabia and American experts to North Yemen. Nor was it by chance that a threatening note crept into Carter’s statement before the People’s Assembly in Egypt when he called the opponents of the Egyptian-Israeli treaty “agents of war, not partisans of peace.”

It comes as no surprise in such circumstances to see Israel harden its position and try to extract the maximum possible by blackmail…. The separate peace does not reduce the danger represented by Israel. On the contrary, it has doubled because Israel is now able to decimate its Arab enemies one by one. If Egypt tries to mount any resistance, Israel has the means to paralyze us.

A new American pact requires an end to conflict between Egypt and Israel. Its objective is to attack Syria, Libya, South Yemen and the revolution in Dhofar before turning against Ethiopia and other more distant targets in Africa and Southeast Asia. In order to realize these objectives, the US will give Egypt some arms to enable it to act in concert with Israel to protect the strategic and economic interests of the United States in the region, and to guarantee by force of arms the uninterrupted flow of Arab oil toward the West at acceptable prices. Israel may well launch a surprise attack against Syria in the near future in the hopes of crushing its military might, of dealing a death blow to Arab resistance, and of strengthening the domination of the new pact over the region. What irony to see Egypt, which raised high the standard of struggle against the Baghdad Pact, arise a promoter of the new American pact erected on the ruins of the old pact formerly dismantled by the Arab people, the last vestiges of which have been swept away by the people of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

The pact has been imposed without taking into account the opinions of Arab governments, such as Saudi Arabia, friendly to the United States. America has scorned all Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, calculating that these states would bow, one after the other, to the accomplished fact. The new pact will be imposed without fanfare, without proclamation. America will thus try to avoid another failure like the Baghdad Pact or the Eisenhower Doctrine, stillborn exactly because of the fanfare which preceded them.

The objective is the erosion of the Arab nation in order to facilitate its submission, not only to Israel, but to the US. The objective is the promotion of internal conflict in the region and the fanning of confessional strife to gradually bring the region as a whole to its knees—”Arabize the conflict and Lebanonize the region.”

To claim that the Egyptian-Israeli treaty will bring prosperity to Egypt is trickery. Real prosperity is normally the fruit of rational and independent development, based on popular effort, people’s labor and the investment of the gains of this effort to increase production. All foreign aid, whatever the source, cannot be more than a limited complement to the national effort. From the beginning, we have affirmed the same in regard to the open door policy.

Four years of a policy of foreign dependence aimed at resolving the economic problems of Egypt has but compounded the crisis and caused it to weigh more heavily on the masses of Egypt. The new treaty opens all doors to Israel, allowing it to penetrate the Egyptian economy and influence its development in the interests of Israel, which can only be radically opposed to those of the Egyptian nation. Military spending will not decrease; it must grow because of the Egyptian government’s commitment to intervene in Africa and the Arab world in concert with Israel to defend American interests. All the aid which the US can give, even assuming that such aid could help our internal capacity, will be less than the aid given annually by the Arab states to Egypt since 1974….

The Egyptian-Israeli treaty not only attempts to impose a “pax Americana” on Egypt which conforms to Israeli conditions and which cannot help but lessen Egypt’s sovereignty. It also isolates Egypt from its true country: the Arab world, lt also exposes Egypt to Israeli control, infiltration and domination. The Egyptian-Israeli treaty is not only an historic occasion for Israel, permitting it to play the role of agent for international monopolies and multinationals in Egypt…. It requires that Egypt scorn the Arabs and its place in the Arab world, that Egypt surrender important Arab economic aid and join the ranks of beggars for American aid who must patiently await the approval or rejection of the American Congress. The Egyptian-Israeli treaty concretizes a new military pact with Egypt and Israel as the nucleus which is intended for expansion to the whole Arab region.

Such is the challenge we face today, the challenge which Egyptians must address. Such is the extreme seriousness of these events, signifying a radical and global change in the destiny and future of Egypt and the future of the whole region, a change without precedent in the contemporary history of the region. Confronting this challenge, our party pledges, and calls upon every Egyptian, for dignity, for patriotism and for authentic allegiance to the Egyptian nation, to pledge with us:

  • To reject the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, to proclaim resistance to this treaty and to appeal to the National Assembly not to ratify it.
  • To lay primary responsibility for this treaty at the feet of the United States. The United States has always opposed the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, the Arab people, the Arab national liberation movement and the Palestinian people—their right to self-determination and the establishment of a national independent state. We call on all Arab governments to adopt a unified position toward the United States, including the use of the oil weapon.
  • To insist on the necessity of finding a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, following the resolutions of the United Nations and those of the Arab summit conferences, particularly the Rabat summit which affirmed the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and recognized the PLO as their sole legitimate representative.
  • To invite the Arab people and states to confront the new American plot seeking to impose a new military pact on the region. Founded on the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, it is actually an alliance between these two countries under the direction of the United States to defend its threatened interests in the Arab world, Africa and Southeast Asia. This treaty is a threat of war, not a promise of peace.
  • To support the Iranian revolution and salute its position of support for the Arab cause, the Palestinian revolution, its defense of Arab Jerusalem and its declaration that Iran, since its revolution, has become one of the front-line states against Israel.
  • To invite all Egyptian citizens, whatever their political position, to boycott Israel, the Israeli presence in Egypt, its diplomatic representatives in this country, Israeli goods, Israeli tourism, racist Zionist culture and all relations with Israelis who come to Egypt as the new invaders, arrogantly believing themselves superior to all Arabs.

Confronting the challenge of the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, our party is proud to declare, in the name of the Egyptian people faithful to the past, that the adherence of Egypt to the Arab nation cannot be bartered or ever questioned. Egypt’s adherence to the Arab world has long been viewed by the Egyptian people as an accomplished historical fact, as a question of life and death, as a question of identity. The Egyptian people identify with the other Arab people just as the Arab people identify with the Egyptian people. Any attempt to detach Egypt from the Arab world is doomed to failure.

The unilateral peace imposed by the US on Egypt opens the door of our country to Israeli domination of our political and economic life, threatens our historical identity and our cultural heritage with its Arab, Islamic and Coptic components. This peace is not only a blow to Arab Egypt but, even worse, a blow to the identity of Egypt, its dignity, and the patriotism and pride of Egyptians. This separate peace, geared to cut off Egypt from the Arab countries, offers nothing firm in return: not the hoped-for peace, not the desired prosperity, but exactly the opposite as it plunges Egypt into the unknown, an unknown encircled by threats, wars, uncertainty and dependence on the US and Israel. This Egypt will never accept; the people of Egypt will never consent.

How to cite this article:

Progressive Assembly "“No to the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty”," Middle East Report 80 (September/October 1979).
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