Camp David 78

CAMP DAVID ACCORDS, 1978

There were several peace plans following the 1967 war, including one by Yigal Allon, an Israeli general who proposed that Israel give back to Jordan the highlands of the West Bank while retaining a defensive line along the Jordan valley. However, nothing happened until after the war in October 1973, during which Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal. There followed a new mood for peace, at least between Israel and Egypt, as was shown by a historic visit to Jerusalem by the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in November 1977. US President Jimmy Carter capitalised on the new mood and invited President Sadat and the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for talks at the presidential retreat at Camp David near Washington. The talks lasted for 12 days and resulted in two agreements.

The first was called A Framework for Peace in the Middle East. It laid down principles for peace, expanding on resolution 242, set out what it hoped was a way of resolving what it called the “Palestinian problem”, agreed that there should be a treaty between Egypt and Israel and called for other treaties between Israel and its neighbours. The weakness of the first agreement was the section on the Palestinians. The plan aimed to set up a “self-governing authority” in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to eventual “final status” talks, but the Palestinians were not party to the agreement.

The second accord was the framework for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. This followed in 1979, after an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. This was the first recognition of Israel as a state by a major Arab country. They probably stand as the most successful negotiations in the whole peace process. The treaty has lasted, and it substantially strengthened Israel’s position. However the peace between Egypt and Israel has not been warm. President Sadat was himself later assassinated.

[from Global Policy Forum, 21 May 2007]