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Camp David Accords

Jimmy Carter

Camp David Accords: Jimmy Carter was the 39th American President who served in office from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. One of the important events during his presidency was the Camp David Accords.

Definition and Summary of the Camp David Accords
Summary and definition:
The Camp David Accords was a peace treaty signed September 17, 1978 between Israel and Egypt at Camp David, the country retreat of the President of the United States. The Camp David Accords were agreed during 12 days of talks between Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the host of the talks U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

The two nations of  Israel and Egypt had been bitter enemies for decades. The role of President Carter as the broker of the historic peace treaty, referred to as the Camp David Accords, was hailed as a great success, and perceived as marking the first step to achieving peace in the Middle East. Most other Arab nations, and many Egyptians, denounced the treaty and Egypt  was expelled from the Arab League. President Anwar Sadat's signing of the Camp David Accords led to his assassination in 1981 by dissatisfied Islamic extremists from within Egypt.

Camp David Accords Facts for kids: The Arab-Israeli Conflict
The historical context of the Arab-Israeli Conflict will help with the understanding of the history of the Middle East and the Camp David Accords providing an overview of historical events behind the clashes between Israel and Palestine.

Facts about Camp David Accords
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Camp David Accords.

Camp David, a presidential retreat located in in Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland about 62 miles (100 km) north of Washington, D.C.

The 'Accords' were a series of secret negotiations and agreements made over a period of 12 days by Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin that were mediated by President Jimmy Carter.

Camp David Accords were held from September 5, 1978 to September 17, 1978 and intended as a "Framework for Peace in the Middle East".

Although the Camp David Accords were two-sided agreements between Egypt and Israel they also proposed a framework for Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and in Gaza, the non-Egyptian territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 War.

History: There were four major wars between Israel and its neighbors, generally led by Egypt: the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the Suez Crisis, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War

History: In 1947 The United Nations (UN) voted to partition Palestine establishing a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an independent Jerusalem under a UN trusteeship. However the Arabs opposed partition.

History: The 1948 Arab-Israeli War erupted in 1948 when Israel proclaimed its independence. There was no provision for a separate state for Arab Palestinians. Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean Sea, and Jordan assumed sovereignty over the West Bank (territory between Israel’s eastern border and the Jordan River), including East Jerusalem.

History: The 1956 Sinai Campaign and the Suez Crisis erupted erupted when the President of Egypt, Gamal Nasser, announced the nationalization of the Anglo-French Suez Canal Company, and Egyptian troops seized control of the Suez Canal. The Soviet Union intervened by offering to send troops to help Egypt and the US went on to nuclear alert and to avoid war, pressurized Britain and France to call off the invasion.

History: The Suez Crisis resulted in the Eisenhower Doctrine, a major commitment by the United States to the security and stability of the Middle East and the continuance of their fight against the increasing spread of Communism.

History: The Six-Day War broke out in June 1967 as Israel occupied the Golan Heights on Syrian land, on Israel’s northeastern border, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The Six-Day War was fought between Israel and all of its neighboring countries of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, aided by other Arab countries.

History: The Yom Kippur War of 1973 (October 6 to 25, 1973) was fought by the coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria (supported by USSR) against Israel (supported by USA). In the Yom Kippur War the Egyptian Army got back Sinai that had been occupied by the Israeli armies for almost 7 years.

Between 1973-1975 US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger engaged in ‘shuttle diplomacy’ hopping between the capitals of Israel, Egypt and Syria. Kissinger succeeded in negotiating "disengagement agreements" which put in place narrow demilitarized zones between the opposing forces in the Golan Heights, and next to the Suez Canal. However, the formal state of war still technically existed between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Two positive events occurred that provided hope for resolving matters in the Middle East. On 14 March 1976, Egypt terminated its treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union. On 21 November 1977, the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli parliament and declared that it was time to reach a peace agreement and to settle the Palestinian question.

When Jimmy Carter became US president on January 20, 1977 he immediately began to address the problems in the Middle East. President Carter still considered the Middle East a dangerous flashpoint for a potential war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, prompted by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's speech to the Israeli parliament, had reached deadlock.

President Carter stepped in and extended an invitation to a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at Camp David on 5 September 1978, in which he would mediate in the discussions.

The 12 day meeting and agreements made at the US presidential retreat became known as the Camp David Accords (5 September 1978 - 17 September 1978).

Purpose: The purpose of the Camp David Accords and agreements were based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338 to bring a peaceful solution to the issues between Egypt and Israel and to provide “a just, comprehensive, and durable settlement of the Middle East conflict”

After 12 days of heated discussions and extremely difficult negotiations mediated by President Carter, Sadat and Begin concluded two agreements in the Camp David Accords:

  1. A framework for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel

  2. A broader framework for achieving peace in the Middle East

The Framework of the Camp David Accords provided for :

  • A phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai Peninsula

  • A full return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt within three years of the signing of a formal peace treaty between the two countries

  • The right of passage for Israeli ships through the Suez Canal

The Broader Framework of the Camp David Accords provided for :

  • Israel to gradually grant self-government and/or autonomy to the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip

  • Israel to partially withdraw its forces in preparation for negotiations on their final status of autonomy after a period of 3 years

  • The broader framework regarding the future of Samaria, Judea and Gaza was not explicitly clear and was later interpreted differently by Israel, Egypt and the U.S.

Reaction: The reaction to the Camp David Accords varied considerably.

  • In the United States the reaction to the meeting and agreements, brokered by President Carter were seen as a great success

  • The reaction in Israel was positive. Most Israeli's were pleased with the Camp David Accords but some felt that that Israel had given up too much for an uneasy peace with Egypt.

  • Most Arab countries disagreed with the Camp David Accords, ostracized Egypt and expelled it from the Arab League. Many Egyptians felt betrayed and also denounced the treaty that weakened a unified Arab opposition against Israel

  • There was vociferous reaction from the  Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), professing to speak for the Palestinian people, who declared an "absolute rejection" of the accords

Significance: The significance of the Camp David Accords was as follows:

  • The peace negotiations between the two nations became the first of its kind between Israel and any Arab State

  • The accords ended the state of war between Israel and Egypt

  • Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula

  • The Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed soon after the accords on 26 March 1979

  • Egypt became less dependent on its Arab allies and the USSR and more reliant on the United States

  • The Nobel Peace Prize 1978 was awarded jointly to Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin for taking the initiative in negotiating a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel

Consequences: An unforeseen consequence of the Camp David Accords was the assassination of Anwar Sadat, on  October 6, 1981, by dissatisfied Islamic extremists from within Egypt.

Impact: The foundation of diplomatic negotiations at the Camp David Accords led to the 1991 Madrid Conference, the 1993 Oslo Accords, and the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

The Camp David Accords was itself successful and led to normalization of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel. It was the events that followed that ruined the peace initiative. The series of Palestinian uprisings (Intifada)  against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Lebanon War, the Gaza War and other conflicts have led to the volatile status quo in the Middle East that persists to this day.

Just months after the Camp David Accords President Carter was faced with a serious crisis in Iran, the Iran Hostage Crisis.

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