Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Camp David Accords (1978)
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following twelve days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States president Jimmy Carter. Sadat also said he wanted them to be called the Carter Accords.
Upon assuming office in January of 1977, Carter moved to rejuvenate the Middle Eastern peace process that had stalled throughout the 1976 presidential campaign in the United States. Following the advice of a Brookings Institute report, Carter opted to replace the incremental, bilateral peace talks which had characterized Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy” with a comprehensive, multilateral approach. This new approach called for the reconvening of the 1973 Geneva conference , this time with a Palestinian delegation and Soviet input, in hopes of negotiating a final settlement.
Carter also wasted no time in visiting the heads-of-state on whom he would have to rely to make any peace agreement feasible. By the end of his first year in office, he had already met with Anwar Sadat of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, Assad of Syria, and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel. Carter’s exploratory meetings indicated he had a basic outline of how to reinvigorate the peace process, but a number of public diplomacy miscues with Rabin revealed a failure on his part to take into account Israel’s domestic political dynamics. These gaffes resulted in a devastating electoral loss of the left-leaning Israeli Labour Party to Menachem Begin’s Likud Party in May of 1977. The hopes for a reconvened Geneva conference quickly faded with the realization that Begin had every intention of honoring the Likud platform’s cynicism of the “land for peace” formula spelled out in UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338.
The Sadat Peace Initiative
Anwar Sadat’s frustration with the lack of progress of the peace process boiled over, and in November of 1977 he became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, implicitly recognizing Israel’s right to exist. The gesture stemmed from an eagerness to enlist the help of the United States in improving the ailing Egyptian economy, a belief that Egypt should begin to focus more on its own interests than on the interests of the collective Arab world, and a hope that a bilateral agreement with Israel would catalyze similar agreements between Israel and her other Arab neighbors. Begin’s response to Sadat’s initiative, though not what Sadat or Carter had hoped, demonstrated a willingness to engage the Egyptian leader. Like Sadat, Begin also saw many reasons why bilateral talks would be in his country’s best interests. It would afford Israel the opportunity to negotiate only with Egypt instead of with a larger Arab delegation that might try to use its size to make unreasonable demands. In addition, the commencement of direct negotiations between leaders – summit diplomacy – would isolate Egypt from her Arab neighbors, a long-standing goal of Israel.
Accompanied by their capable negotiating teams and with their respective interests in mind, both leaders converged on Camp David for thirteen days of tense and dramatic negotiations from September 5-17, 1978. By all accounts, Carter’s relentless drive to achieve peace and his reluctance to allow the two men to leave without reaching an agreement are what played the decisive role in the success of the talks. Numerous times both the Egyptian and Israeli leaders wanted to scrap negotiations, only to be lured back into the process by personal appeals from Carter. Begin and Sadat had such mutual antipathy toward one another that they only seldom had direct contact; thus Carter had to conduct his own microcosmic form of shuttle diplomacy by holding one-on-one meetings with either Sadat or Begin in one cabin, then returning to the cabin of the third party to relay the substance of his discussions.
A particularly difficult situation arose on day ten of the talks. The issues of Israeli settlement withdrawal from the Sinai and the status of the West Bank created what seemed to be an impasse. Begin and Sadat were “literally not on speaking terms,” and “claustrophobia was setting in." In response, Carter had the choice of trying to salvage the agreement by conceding the issue of the West Bank to Begin, while advocating Sadat’s less controversial position on the removal of all settlements from the Sinai Peninsula. Or he could have refused to continue the talks, reported the reasons for their failure, and allowed Begin to bear the brunt of the blame. Carter chose to continue and for three more days negotiated, arm-twisted, assured, and petitioned until at last an agreement was possible. The result was the Camp David Accords.
Terms of the Agreement
According to the Israeli-Egyptian portion of the agreement, Israel had to withdraw both its troops and settlers from the Sinai and restore it to Egyptian control in return for normal diplomatic relations with Egypt, guarantees of freedom of passage through the Suez Canal and other nearby waterways (such as the Straits of Tiran), and a restriction on the number of troops Egypt could place on the Sinai peninsula.
The time that has elapsed since the Camp David Accords have left no doubt as to their enormous ramifications on Middle Eastern politics. Most notably, the perception of Egypt within the Arab world changed. With the most powerful of the Arab militaries and a history of leadership in Arab world under Nasser, Egypt had more leverage than any of the other Arab states to advance Arab interests. Sadat’s alacrity at concluding a peace treaty without demanding greater concessions for Israeli recognition of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination incited enough hatred in the Arab world to bring about Sadat’s assassination in 1981.
Also, the Camp David Accords prompted the disintegration of a united Arab front in opposition to Israel. Egypt’s realignment created a power vacuum that Saddam Hussein of Iraq, at one time only a secondary consideration, hoped to fill. His ambitions became visible in 1980 when he ordered the invasion of neighboring Iran, starting a chain of events that would later lead to an invasion of Kuwait in 1990, then ultimately the toppling of his own regime in 2003.
Lastly, the biggest consequence of all may be in the psychology of the participants of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The success of Begin, Sadat, and Carter at Camp David demonstrated to other Arab states and entities that negotiations with Israel were possible – that progress results only from sustained efforts at communication and cooperation. To the moderates within the PLO and Jordan, Camp David may have been just the incentive they needed to begin negotiations of their own. Despite the disappointing conclusion of the Oslo agreement of 1993 between the PLO and Israel, and even though the Jordanian peace treaty with Israel, signed in 1994, has not fully normalized relations with Israel, both of these significant developments had little chance of occurring without the precedent set by Camp David. Who knows how many more successful peace negotiations will take their inspiration from those thirteen days in September of 1978?
- 1948 Arab-Israeli War
- 1956 Suez War
- 1967 Six Day War
- 1970 War of Attrition
- 1973 Yom Kippur War
- Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Proposals for a Palestinian state
- Arab-Israeli conflict
Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties
- Paris Peace Conference, 1919
- Faisal-Weizmann Agreement
- 1949 Armistice Agreements
- Madrid Conference of 1991
- Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
- Oslo Accords (1993)
- Camp David 2000 Summit
- Peace Process in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
- List of Middle East peace proposals
- International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details