In 1967, border tensions between Egypt and Israel led to the Six-Day War. On June 5, Israel launched an air assault, and within days had annexed the Sinai Peninsula, the East Bank of the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights. A UN cease-fire on June 10 saved the Arabs from a complete rout. Nasser declared the 1967 cease-fire void along the canal in April 1969 and began a war of attrition. On Sept. 28, 1970, Nasser died of a heart attack. Anwar el-Sadat, an associate of Nasser and a former newspaper editor, became the next president.
The fourth Arab-Israeli War broke out on Oct. 6, 1973, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Egypt swept deep into the Sinai, while Syria strove to throw Israel off the Golan Heights. A UN-sponsored truce was accepted on Oct. 22. In Jan. 1974, both sides agreed to a settlement negotiated by the U.S. that gave Egypt a narrow strip along the entire Sinai bank of the Suez Canal. In June, President Nixon made the first visit by a U.S. president to Egypt and full diplomatic relations were established. The Suez Canal was reopened on June 5, 1975.
In the most audacious act of his career, Sadat flew to Jerusalem at the invitation of Prime Minister Menachem Begin on Nov. 20, 1977, to discuss a permanent peace settlement. The Arab world reacted with fury. Egypt and Israel signed a formal peace treaty on March 26, 1979. The pact ended 30 years of war and established diplomatic and commercial relations.
By mid-1980, two-thirds of the Sinai had been transferred back to Egypt, but Sadat halted further talks with Israel in Aug. 1980 because of continued Israeli settlement of the West Bank. On Oct. 6, 1981, Sadat was assassinated by extremist Muslim soldiers at a parade in Cairo. Vice President Hosni Mubarak, a former air force chief of staff, succeeded him. Israel completed the return of the Sinai to Egyptian control on April 25, 1982. Israel"s invasion of Lebanon in June brought a marked cooling in Egyptian-Israeli relations, but not a disavowal of the peace treaty.