I read in the book "The Iron Wall" by Avi Shlaim, there was a description of the Yom Kippur war that happened due to Golda Meir's insistence on keeping parts of Sinai and not trading them to Egypt for peace. In a chapter called "Immobilization" in the authors book, it was described in the end, that Meir was given a similar peace agreement to what Menachem Begin was given (At Begin's time, a peace agreement was signed that related to the return of Sinai to Egypt for peace between the countries). It was also described that it was Meir's fault for not accepting the agreement, a situation which later on led to a war.

How much evidence is there that supports or opposes Meir's failure in diplomacy/politics to achieve peace with Egypt and prevent the Yom Kippur war?

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    I personally agree, as it conforms with how I was taught (and obviously intelligence failings allowed the war to be a near-catastrophe but wouldn't cause a war in and of itself) But I feel that the question as stated is a bit opinion-based/hypothetical, since Egypt was just one participant on the Arab side of the war. Perhaps you might consider rephrasing to focus on whether Golda Meir was presented with Egyptian peace offers?
    – Semaphore
    Dec 23, 2014 at 15:58
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    At the time of the Camp David Accords being reached, the opinion of the pundits was that only Menachem Begin could have ever signed such a deal, by virtue of not having Menachem Begin as Leader of the Opposition to scuttle it. Dec 23, 2014 at 16:40
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    Note that it was and is not within the scope of Israeli executive powers for a Prime Minister to unilaterally sign a peace accord; any such agreement must be approved by the Knesset: thecrimson.com/article/1978/9/28/…. Note also that a side effect of the Yom Kippur war was that the Israeli military began to perceive the Egyptian Armed Forces as being competent, an opinion that did not exist in, for example, 1967. This also affected civilian opinion of the Accord within Israel. Dec 23, 2014 at 16:45
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    I read your comments. I just want to add that, the chapter in the book. Described the passiveness and the stubborness that she showed towards the concessions and piece negotiations towards Egypt. Meir was described as a politician that shared Ben-Gurions mentality of keeping the land "at all costs". Her politics overall and not a single act lead to failure of any peace negotiation failure and the break of the yum kipur war. The bottom line is that she didnt want to give up Sinai, and that caused the war..
    – XWorm
    Dec 23, 2014 at 16:50
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    You may want to read some criticism of Shlaim (and that specific book) before deciding to use it as your Bible. He basically cherry picked the facts to suit his ideology. e.g. 1, 2
    – DVK
    Dec 23, 2014 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


I think you are referring to a proposal by Moshe Dayan to Meir in December 1970 that Israel withdraw 20 miles from the Suez Canal in order to aid the Egyptians in reopening the canal and possibly averting their motivation to go to war, according to this article in the Times of Israel. Two months later, Sadat, in a speech to the Egyptian National Assembly adopted Meir's proposal, but his proposal did not include recognition of Israel or a willingness to negotiate and agree on border, two items that were fundamental Israeli demands, and things that Sadat ultimately agreed to with Begin. Moreover, the article asserts that Israel was advised by the Nixon administration not to agree to Sadat's proposal without further conciliatory gestures from Sadat.

In 2013, the Israeli government released documents that in early June 1973, Israel sent Sadat a secret message through West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, proposing that Israel would be willing secretly meet with Sadat to trade Sinai to Egypt for peace. In a later meeting she described the offer, saying: "He can tell Sadat that he, Brandt, is convinced that we truly want peace. That we don’t want all of Sinai, or half of Sinai, or the major part of Sinai. Brandt can make it clear to Sadat that we do not request that he begin negotiations in public, and that we are prepared to begin secret negotiations, etc." For the original Hebrew-language document, see Document 8.

Coming so closely after the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli atheletes, Brandt was not so willing to involve West Germany in the negotiations at a high level. He sent a relatively low-level diplomat to meet with Egyptian officials. According to a 2013 Times of Israel article, Hafiz Ismail, a close adviser to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and relayed the Israeli proposal, advised Sadat to reject the offer on the basis that unless Israel was willing to retreat to the pre-1967 cease-fire lines, there was no point in talking directly with the Jewish state.

Meir's disappointment with Sadat's failure to accept her offer to meet was reflected in her first comment to him when they met on his first visit to Israel in 1977, where she said simply, "what took you so long?" Hinn, Benny, Blood in the Sand, p. 150.

  • Whenever Israel is defended here, some anonymous person will down vote no matter how well documented the answer is. Dec 25, 2014 at 3:54
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    The argument is a bit flimsy with all that low level negotiations. ...hmmmm .. I
    – XWorm
    Dec 25, 2014 at 8:58
  • Nice articles, interesting to see that there is some argument with evidence against what Avi Shlaim wrote.
    – XWorm
    Dec 25, 2014 at 9:15

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