(Photo: Dan Hadani - Dan Hadani Archive/National Library of Israel)

(Photo: Dan Hadani - Dan Hadani Archive/National Library of Israel)

By Rachel Neiman - March 26, 2019

March 26, 2019 marks the fourth decade since the signing of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. It is a bittersweet anniversary. Relations between Israel and Egypt have long been described as a “cold peace” with little person-to-person contact – so different from the euphoria of the early Eighties when Israelis rushed en masse to visit the country that had once been a bitter enemy.

That spirit was perhaps best exemplified by the two leaders at that time, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, who – in addition to sharing the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace – shared a friendship that extended beyond the confines of formal diplomacy.

In honor of the 40th anniversary, the National Library of Israel has released a series of photographs documenting Begin’s visits to Egypt.

During the negotiations with Egypt and in the years following the signing of the agreement, Begin came to Egypt several times. Betwixt and between the crowded meeting schedule, the Israeli PM managed to tour some of Egypt’s most famous historic sites: the Pyramids of Giza, the Aswan Dam, the temples of Abu Simbel and the tombs of the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings.

According to photographer Dan Hadani, who accompanied the Israeli entourage on one visit, “It was impossible to describe the excitement that gripped us when we suddenly saw the pyramids from the plane. To think of the Children of Israel who were slaves in Egypt… it was like a dream.”

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