Rarely in history has a peace settlement seemed so dismal. The Treaty of Washington between Egypt and Israel was signed on March 26, 1979. Since then there has been little excitement in Egypt about this new era in the nation’s contemporary history. There were several more or less spontaneous gatherings organized when President Anwar al-Sadat returned to Cairo. Otherwise there has been almost no sign of enthusiasm from a population victimized by four wars and usually quite ready to express itself.
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.
In the view of leading European politicians, statesmen and journalists, the “peace” treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in March is more of a liability than a promising asset in their governments’ attempts to forge better relations with the Arab world. Many see it as a prelude to further conflict in the Middle East, and diplomats for the nine member states of the European Economic Community (EEC) have been quietly urging the United States either to extract more concessions from Begin or to make a new initiative — unilaterally if necessary — to widen the Treaty to include other Arab states and possibly the Palestine Liberation Organization as well.
Throughout the twentieth century history of Palestine, none of the numerous proposals for “partition” of the country have ever been accepted by any significant group of Palestinian Arabs in spite of the many proposals to that end prior to and following the forced dismemberment of the country in 1948.  Palestinian and Arab resistance on this point has been unequivocal and effective — at least until recently.
As Sameer Abraham points out in the article that follows, no proposal for the partition of Palestine has ever been accepted by any significant number of Palestinians. Such proposals have always had the intention of securing and legitimizing the Zionist presence in Palestine. But with the “transitional program” accepted by the Palestine National Congress in June 1974 we are faced with a proposal of different intent, for this time the suggestion has come from the Palestinians themselves.