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The negotiations over the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty raised fundamental legal issues of conflict between different treaties and the right to collective self-defence. International law was unable to give unambiguous answers to these issues. The two parties have maintained the peace for over forty years not because of the legal wording of the Peace Treaty, but because it is in their national interests. To the best knowledge of the author, the parties have never had resource to the language of the Peace Treaty, except as regards the changes in the security arrangements, and settling the Taba dispute. Nevertheless, it was important for both sides to try and ensure legal language that represented their interests, and the Peace Treaty can be seen as an extremely successful example of legal draftsmanship. The language of the treaty was copied, nearly verbatim, in successive peace treaties that Israel signed with other Arab States. Begin and Sadat received the Nobel Peace prize, a leading textbook on treaty law chose a picture of the signing ceremony with Begin, Carter and Sadat as the photo on its cover, a compliment to the treaty drafting of Egypt and Israel, done with the help of the United States.
By 1992, when Australia was asked to recommit to the US-led peacekeeping force – the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) – more than a decade had elapsed since Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, marking the transfer of the Sinai back to Egypt and the start of the MFO’s operations. Peace, a shaky proposition in the region – and absent on Israel’s other borders – had held. Mostly, as an Australian diplomat recognised, this was because of the ‘political will’ that Egypt and Israel, encouraged by US leadership, displayed in maintaining the underlying aims of the 1978 Camp David accords and the subsequent 1979 Treaty of Peace. But the MFO also played a role.