In Washington, where peace in the international arena generally means peace on the party circuit, last night the ambassador of Egypt hosted an intimate farewell dinner for the departing ambassador of Israel.
It never would have happened five years ago. So strained were relations between the two nations before the Camp David peace agreement that ambassadors from the countries wouldn't even look at each other at dinner parties.
Last night Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal and Ambassador Ephraim Evron hugged each other under a glittering chandelier at a cocktail reception before dinner at the Egyptian Embassy.
"Sure I'm going to miss him," said Egypt's Ghorbal, draping his arm around his friend of recent years. "I'm going to visit Israel soon."
"I'm supposed to be his host and take him all around," shot back Evron.
"I'm quite excited," said Ghorbal. "I haven't been there since 1945."
"We're going to cross the border together," said Evron, referring to that part of Israel that is being given up to Egypt as part of the Camp David accords, "and I'm going to show him some parts of the Sinai."
The two men joked and laughed, and not unlike old college fraternity pals, they whispered knowingly and poked each other a few times.
"Who ever thought this day would come?" said Ghorbal. "I remember a time when Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and I would go to meetings in the State Department. We would pass each other and nod because we respected each other, but we could never talk."
Ghorbal said, "Egypt and Israel have found their peace, and now the name of the game is to get all the Arab states to agree." He conceded, however, that Israel's recent annexation of the Golan Heights was a problem. "It was wrong," said Ghorbal. "I told Eppie that. We do have our differences, but we're friends. We agree to disagree."
Israel's Evron has resigned his 4-year-old post as of the end of this month amid speculation that the choice was not entirely his. Evron's two immediate predecessors served five years in this country.
"Oh no," said Rivka Evron. "My husband really wants to go back. It was his decision. If he wanted to stay here, he could have." The ambassador also said that he was "very anxious" to go back to Israel, where he will retire after 33 years in the foreign service.
"I am going to miss the excitement of the assignment," he said, "and of knowing that I played an important role in better American-Israeli relations, and in developing peace with Egypt."
Among the 22 guests who sipped Egyptian wines in the delicate gold-shaded room were OAS Secretary General Alejandro Orfila and his wife, Helga; deputy assistant secretary of state Morris Draper; Jack Nelson, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times; and Robert and Helen Strauss.
Dinner was sole bon femme, chicken kebab and ommali, an Egyptian pastry dessert.
Both Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who is traveling in Europe, and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger sent their written regrets.
" . . . There is nothing of which I am more proud," wrote Kissinger, "than to have had a small part in starting the process that made it possible for my good friend the ambassador of Egypt to be hosting a farewell dinner for my good friend the ambassador of Israel."