In Historical Shift, New Egyptian Textbooks to Include Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

February 18, 2016

2 min read

A history textbook to be used in Egyptian schools will discuss the country’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel for the first time, Israel’s Army Radio reported.

The 1978 Camp David Accords and the ensuing peace treaty will take up a chapter in the book. The chapter, according to the report, is written in a simple and factual manner with phrases such as a description that Egypt and Israel are “ending the state of war,” with “each side respecting the sovereignty and independence of the other side.”

This addition is part of a larger educational change in Egypt with regard to school textbooks under current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. About 1,300 textbooks for different grades have been revised, in some cases clearly to make a political point. For instance, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s role in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, during which he served as commander of the Egyptian air force, has been downplayed compared to how it was treated in textbooks while Mubarak was president. Some content added to books while the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi was Egypt’s president has also been removed.

The change with regard to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty could stem from the fact that El-Sisi has been known to have a more tolerant attitude towards Israel, despite continued popular hostility to Israel within his country’s population. Under El-Sisi’s watch, Egypt has quietly worked closely with Israel on combating Sinai Province, the Islamic State-affiliated terror group in the Sinai Peninsula, while Egypt has been helping Israel destroy Hamas terror tunnels.

“From the Israeli point of view, [El-Sisi’s] military and intelligence services have cooperated with Israel at unprecedented levels.…I think, his private beliefs aside, he is a committed opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and by extension of Hamas and other Islamic extremists,” Oren Kessler, deputy director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told last year.

In September 2015, El-Sisi called for expanding the peace treaty with Israel to include other Arab nations, although he later slightly backtracked on that statement.

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