Congress approves Sadat medal ahead of Camp David anniversary

Trump signs law honouring Anwar Sadat ahead of Camp David anniversary
2 min read
18 December, 2018
US Congress approved legislation that would posthumously award Egypt's former President Anwar Sadat the Congressional Gold Medal ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Camp David Accords.
Anwar Sadat's rapprochement with Israel led to his assassination in 1981 [Getty]
US President Donald Trump has signed a new law that would see Egypt's former President Anwar Sadat honoured with the Congressional Gold Medal for his role in the Camp David Peace Accords with Israel in 1979.

The medal, the highest civilian honour in the US, is set to be granted next year, on the 40th anniversary of the accords. This year also marks the centenary of the birth of Sadat, a president who leaves a mixed legacy in Egypt.

The Egyptian Embassy in the US tweeted it was "excited" by the news. Other Israeli figures also welcomed the move.

The text of the act, signed on Thursday, states: "President Sadat is recognized in the United States and throughout the world as a respected leader and champion of peace whose vision provided a roadmap for the peaceful resolution of conflict that endures nearly 40 years after its inception." 

It further adds that "President Sadat bravely reached out to Israel and dedicated himself to peace, furthering the national security of Egypt and the stability of the Middle East."

The move was initiated by lobbying organisation The Friedlander Group, who focus on Jewish issues inside the US. The bid was also backed by Egyptian industrial tycoon Shafik Gabr, Israeli clothing mogul Isaac Dabah, as well as Tzili Charney, the widow of Leon Charney, a philanthropist and friend of Ezer Weizman, the Israeli defence minister at the time of the accords, who advised its negotiators.

The Camp David Accords, signed by Sadat and Israeli then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, were overseen by former US President Jimmy Carter, and signed at the White House in September 1978.

The pair were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. The accords led directly to the ratification of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in March 1979.

However Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by militant Islamists as a result of the deal and his warm stance towards Israel.

The deal led to negotiations between Israel and Palestine being restarted as well as the withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai. Both Egypt and Israel received significant military and economic aid from the US as a result of the deal.

However Sadat's rapprochement with Israel led to him being shunned by both his Arab neighbours and the Egyptian population who saw him as a traitor.

The UN General Assembly also rejected the agreement because it had not involved the Palestinians and neglected central Palestinian demands, including the Right of Return or the right to national self-determination.