On 17 September 1978, Egyptian president
The road to Camp David was paved with the political developments of the previous decade. The 1967 war
had convinced many Arab political elites and intellectuals that Israel was a permanent reality in the region, while the 1973 war
was perceived as having removed the stigma of earlier defeats, thus allowing the possibility of reaching a compromise with Israel. In 1976, Jimmy Carter
was elected president of the United States
, and his administration set about reconvening the Geneva Conference
, a joint U.S.-Soviet initiative to negotiate an Arab-Israeli settlement in the wake of the 1973 war. Despite some progress, the prospects of reaching a comprehensive agreement were cast into question by internal Arab conflicts and by Israel’s position, especially with the victory of Menachem Begin and the Likud Party
in the Israeli election of May 1977. Likud claimed Jewish sovereignty over all of “Greater Israel” (including
In early November 1977, Sadat announced that he was willing to go to
On 11 March 1978, a team of
Sadat and Begin arrived on 5 September 1978. Sadat had given up the power of a united Arab front and the recognition card, having already visited Jerusalem, and was under significant pressure to emerge from Camp David with some kind of agreement. Begin, on the other hand, was not under internal pressure and was holding a strong bargaining position: the
The second agreement, “The Framework for Peace in the Middle East ,” proposed the principles of a comprehensive peace based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 “in all their parts.” The first part of the framework called for a process through which a “self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza” would be elected by the inhabitants of these territories, in a process agreed upon through negotiations between Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. Once this self-governing authority was established, a five-year “transitional period” would begin, during which negotiations would take place to determine the final status of the West Bank and Gaza, culminating with “a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.” A second part dealt with Egyptian-Israeli relations, which would be governed by a peace agreement between the two parties, and a third part proposed the provisions that should apply to peace treaties between Israel and the neighboring Arab states, including full recognition, economic development and an end to boycott, and a privileged role for the United States in negotiations.
Many Arabs saw this framework for a comprehensive peace as a nonstarter. It had been negotiated without the involvement of most key actors, most prominently the
The PLO rejected the agreement, arguing that—among myriad other flaws—accepting the five-year “transitional period” without having the future of the occupied territories specified after the five-year period bestowed legitimacy upon the occupation and gave Israel time to establish further settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The UN General Assembly also rejected the “Framework for Middle East Peace,” as it was concluded without UN or PLO participation. The
The signing of a bilateral agreement between Israel and the largest and most powerful Arab state, Egypt, had the effect of not only breaking the united Arab front but also making it harder to concretize the formula of a settlement based on land for peace on the other fronts and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
“CIA Library, Declassified Documents on the September 1978 Camp David Summit, Washington, DC, Released 13 November 2013.” Journal of Palestine Studies 43, no.2 (Winter 2014): 165–168.
“Documents and Source Material: Arab Documents on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Journal of Palestine Studies 8, no.2 (Winter 1979): 176–204 (includes statements by Arab actors in reaction to Camp David Accords).
Khalidi, Rashid. Soviet Middle East Policy in the Wake of Camp David. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1979.
Lesch, Ann Mosely, and Mark Tessler. Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians: From Camp David to Intifada. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.
Mahmood, Zahid. “Sadat and Camp David Reappraised.” Journal of Palestine Studies 15, no.1 (Autumn 1985): 62–87.
Quandt, William B. Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1986.
Sayegh, Fayez A. “The Camp David Agreement and the Palestine Problem.” Journal of Palestine Studies 8, no.2 (Winter 1979): 3–40.