An Egyptian workman who has never known a day when the country was not in a state of war with Israel watched with amusement as a jammed, smoking bus lurched through the donkeys and pushcarts at a busy Cairo intersection, the usual crowd of intrepid young men clinging to the outside.
"After peace comes," he said with a wave that took in the whole scene, "no mere of that. Everything will be all right."
Similiar vignettes can be found all across Egypt, variations on the theme that peace will bring prosperity. The 40 million people of an exhausted and poverty-stricken country are looking forward to peace in the belief it will quickly bring them a better life.
They are likely to be disappointed.
Economists, bankers, businessmen and political leaders agree that peace with Israel will mean little immediate relief for the Egyptian masses.
In the five years since the last war, the over-all economic position of the Egyptian government has improved substantially, but the benefits of that improvement have hardly begun to trickle down to the majority of the population. While the long-range effects of ending the state of war with Israel and regaining the Sinai Peninsula will on balance be beneficial, analysts here say, there is nothing to sustain the popular faith that good times lie just ahead.
"It is not as easy as people think, an influential Egyptian journalist said. "What we hope is that when we have ended the state of hostility, we can turn our attention to our internal problems. It needs time and patience. we have to work hard and produce more, [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE].