Camp David accords, popular name for the peace treaty forged in 1978 between Israel and Egypt at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Md. The official agreement was signed on Mar. 26, 1979, in Washington, D.C. by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, with U.S. President Jimmy Carter signing as a witness. Under the pact, which was denounced by other Arab states, Israel agreed to return the Sinai to Egypt, a transfer that was completed in 1982. In a joint letter the two nations also agreed to negotiate Palestinian autonomy measures in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, but virtually no progress was made on this issue until the 1990s.
Historian Jürgen Jenshaugen says that by the time Carter left office in January 1981:
He was in a strange position – he tried to break with traditional American policy but ended up achieving the goals of that tradition, which was to dismantle the Arab alliance, marginalize the Palestinians, build an alliance with Egypt, weaken the Soviet Union and secure Israel.
Carter’s and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s exploratory meetings gave a basic plan to revitalize the peace process based on the Geneva Peace Conference and presented three main goals for Arab-Israeli peace:
▪️ Arab recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace.
▪️ and Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories gained in the Six-Day War through negotiation efforts With neighboring Arab countries to ensure that Israel’s security is not jeopardized.
▪️ and that undivided Jerusalem is guaranteed.
The Camp David Accords were the result of 14 months of diplomacy between Egypt, Israel and the United States that began after President Jimmy Carter took office. Efforts initially focused on a comprehensive solution to the conflicts between Israel and the Arab states, and gradually evolved into the search for a bilateral agreement between Israel and Egypt.
Upon taking office on January 20, 1977, President Carter moved to revive the Middle East peace process that had stalled during the 1976 US presidential election campaign. Following the advice of the Brookings Institution report , Carter chose to replace the increased bilateral peace talks that had characterized Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War with a comprehensive, multilateral approach. The Yom Kippur War further complicated efforts to achieve the goals of the United Nations in Security Council Resolution 242.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his successor, Menachem Begin, were skeptical of an international conference. While Begin, who took office in May 1977, officially favored a reconvening of the conference, perhaps more explicitly than Rabin, and even before the Palestinian presence, in fact the Israelis and Egyptians were secretly formulating a framework for bilateral talks. Even earlier, Begin was not opposed to returning the Sinai , but a major obstacle in the future was his absolute refusal to consider giving up control of the West Bank .
Carter visited the heads of state he would have to count on to make any peace deal possible. By the end of his first year in office, he had already met with Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt , King Hussein of Jordan , Hafez al-Assad of Syria , and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel . Although he supported Sadat’s peace initiative, King Hussein refused to participate in the peace talks. Begin offered Jordan little to gain, and Hussein feared it would isolate Jordan from the Arab world and provoke Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization if it participated in peace talks as well. Hafez al-Assad, who had no particular interest in negotiating with Israel, also refused. Come to the United States and only agreed to meet with Carter in Geneva.
President Anwar Sadat felt that the course of the peace process in Geneva was more of a theatrical than meaningful, and was not progressing; This is partly due to disagreements with the Arabs (mainly Syria, Libya and Iraq) and their communist allies. He also lacked confidence in Western powers to pressure Israel after a meeting with Western leaders. His frustration grew, and after secret preparatory meetings between Egyptian and Israeli officials, unknown even to NATO countries, in November 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel.
On November 9, 1977, President Sadat stunned the world by announcing before Parliament his intention to go to Jerusalem and speak before the Knesset. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli government warmly invited him to address the Knesset in a letter passed to Sadat through the US ambassador to Egypt. Ten days after his speech, Sadat arrived for a groundbreaking three-day visit, which launched the first peace process between Israel and an Arab country. As with subsequent Israeli-Arab peace initiatives, Washington was taken by surprise. The White House and the State Department were particularly concerned that Sadat was only reaching out to retake Sinai as quickly as possible, setting aside the Palestinian problem. Sadat was considered a man of strong political convictions who kept an eye on the main objective, and had no ideological base, which made him politically inconsistent. Sadat’s visit came after he delivered a speech in Egypt stating that he would travel anywhere, “even to Jerusalem,” to discuss peace. This speech led the Begin government to declare that if Israel believed that Sadat would accept an invitation, Israel would invite him. In the Knesset speech, Sadat spoke about his views on peace, the status of the occupied Palestinian territories, and the problem of the Palestinians. This tactic contradicts the intentions of both the West and the East, which were to revive the Geneva Conference.
This gesture stemmed from a desire to have NATO countries help improve the Egyptian economy, a belief that Egypt should begin to focus more on its own interests than on those of the Arab world, and the hope that the agreement with Israel would stimulate similar agreements between Israel and its other Arab neighbors and help solve the Palestinian problem. Prime Minister Begin’s response to Sadat’s initiative, though not what Sadat or Carter had hoped for, showed a willingness to engage the Egyptian leader. Like Sadat, Begin also saw many reasons why bilateral talks served his country’s best interests. It will give Israel the opportunity to negotiate with Egypt only, rather than a larger Arab delegation that might try to use its size to make unwelcome or unacceptable demands. Israel felt that Egypt could help protect it from other Arabs and eastern communists. In addition, the initiation of direct negotiations between the leaders – summit diplomacy – would distinguish Egypt from its Arab neighbors. It seems that the Carter people had no knowledge of the secret talks in Morocco between Dayan and Sadat’s representative, Hassan Tohamy, that paved the way for Sadat’s initiative. Indeed, in the sense that Egypt and Israel were gathering to push Carter off his course in Geneva. The main message of Sadat’s speech in the Knesset was to request the implementation of Resolutions 242 and 338. Sadat’s visit was the first step for negotiations like the initial Cairo conference in December 1977.
On 26 March 1979 , and after talks Camp David , the two sides signed the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty was the main axes of the treaty is to end the state of war and the establishment of friendly relations between Egypt and Israel, and Israel ‘s withdrawal from Sinai , captured in 1967 after the Six – Day War also included agreement to ensure transit of Israeli ships channel Suez and the consideration of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. The agreement also included the start of negotiations to establish an autonomous region for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution No. 242 .
Strategic and political impact of the agreement.
▪️ Ended the state of war between Egypt and Israel.
▪️ Both countries have enjoyed improved diplomatic and economic relations with European countries and the United States.
▪️ The agreement and ending the state of war opened the door to projects to develop tourism, especially in Sinai.
▪️ Egypt’s membership in the Arab League was suspended from 1979 to 1989 as a result of the signing of this agreement.
The Camp David Accords provoked opposition reactions in Egypt and most Arab countries, in Egypt. Foreign Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Kamel resigned for his opposition to the agreement and called it the massacre of concessions. A complete article wrote in his book “The Peace Lost in the Camp David Accords” published in the early eighties that “what Sadat accepted is very far from a just peace,” and criticized all the Camp David Accords for not referring to them. Frankly, to an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and for not including the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
These Arab countries held a summit in which they rejected everything that was issued. Later, the Arab League decided to move its headquarters from Cairo to Tunisia in protest of the Egyptian move.
On the Arab level, there was an atmosphere of frustration and anger because the Arab street was still under the influence of the ideas of Arab unity and the ideas of Gamal Abdel Nasser, especially in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Algeria and Yemen .Some believe that the agreement led to the emergence of regional and personal leadership tendencies in the Arab world to fill the vacuum left by Egypt . These gestures were clear to the leaders in Iraq and Syria . The two countries tried to form a union in 1979, but it collapsed after a few weeks, and Iraq quickly convened a summit of the League of Arab States In Baghdad on November 2 , 1978, it rejected the Camp David Accords and decided to transfer the headquarters of the Arab League from Egypt and suspend and boycott Egypt’s membership. 10 Arab countries and the Palestine Liberation Organization participated in this summit . This summit was known as the “Rejection Front”. On November 20 , 1979, the Tunis Ordinary Summit was held and confirmed the implementation of the boycott on the country Egypt . The dispersion in the situation increased after the first Gulf War, as Syria and Libya joined the side of Iran . During this dispersion, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 under the pretext of removing the Palestine Liberation Organization from southern Lebanon, and the Lebanese capital was besieged for several months, and the idea of a “Maghreb Union” was born, which was based on Belonging to Africa, not belonging to Arab nationalism.
Camp David accords”, www.infoplease.com
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