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Relations with Middle Eastern States

Despite the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel has established formal diplomatic relations with Egypt and maintained a de facto peaceful relationship with Jordan. Israeli leaders have traveled to Morocco to discuss Israeli-Arab issues, and Morocco has often served as an intermediary between Israel and the other Arab states. In 1983 Israel signed a peace treaty with Lebanon, although it was quickly abrogated by the Lebanese as a result of Syrian pressure. Some secret diplomatic contacts may also have occurred between Israel and Tunisia.


In late 1988, about ten years after the signing of the Camp David Accords and the Treaty of Peace Between Egypt and Israel (see The Peace Process , ch. 1), a "cool" peace characterized Egyptian-Israeli relations. These relations had originally been envisioned as leading to a reconciliation between Israel and the Arab states, but this development has not occurred. EgyptianIsraeli relations have been restrained by a number of developments, including the June 1981 Israeli bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon directed against Palestinian forces a year later, the establishment of an increasing number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the "watering down" of proposals for the autonomy of the Palestinian inhabitants of these territories as envisaged by the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

Relations between the two countries warmed somewhat during Peres's tenure as prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the National Unity Government. They again cooled, however, following the establishment of the Likud-led cabinet in December 1988, and prime minister Shamir's rejection of Israeli participation in an international peace conference with the PLO. Nevertheless, the two countries continued to maintain full diplomatic relations, and in 1985 about 60,000 Israeli tourists visited Egypt, although Egyptian tourism to Israel was much smaller. Cooperation occurred in the academic and scientific areas as well as in a number of joint projects in agriculture, marine science, and disease control.

Another issue that had impeded normal relations between Egypt and Israel concerned the disposition of Taba, an approximately 100- hectare border enclave and tourist area on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Sinai Peninsula claimed by the two countries, but occupied by Israel. Following a September 1988 ruling in Egypt's favor by an international arbitration panel, official delegations from Israel and Egypt met to implement the arbitral award.

Data as of December 1988