Camp David Accords
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What were the Camp David Accords?
The Camp David Accords were a series of agreements between Israel and Egypt that led to a peace treaty between the two nations in 1979. The accords were the result of negotiations in the United States between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
An accord, in this context, is an international agreement. The negotiations between Israel and Egypt took place at Camp David, a retreat for U.S. presidents located in Maryland, close to Washington, D.C.
The Camp David Accords were the first official agreement between Israel and any Arab country. They are considered a landmark in U.S. foreign relations and a high point in Middle Eastern relations, and their consequences are still discussed today. Although the accords were widely seen as a positive step toward peace and stability in the Middle East, historians debate their long-term effects.
Why were the Camp David Accords important?
In 1978, it was a big deal that Israel and Egypt even agreed to meet. Israel and Egypt (along with the rest of the Arab world) had been in conflict for decades, since Israel’s founding in 1948. But relations were particularly bad in the 1970s. In 1967, Israel battled the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and captured large pieces of Arab territory in what came to be known as the Six-Day War. In 1973, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq attacked Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, sparking the Yom Kippur War.
Following in a long line of U.S. presidents who tried to broker peace in the Middle East, Carter made Middle Eastern relations one of his main foreign policy priorities, and he was the one who made the meeting happen. The two weeks of negotiations at the presidential retreat revolved around how to stabilize relations between the two nations but especially centered on Israel’s dealing with the Palestinians, which had been (and continues to be) one of the main sources of conflict in the Middle East. The talks produced two agreements that formed a foundation for the 1979 treaty, including some movement toward a framework for Palestinian self-government in certain areas. However, the United Nations didn’t fully recognize the agreements because the Palestinians weren’t part of the negotiations.
The Camp David Accords had consequences beyond the specifics of the agreements. The accords set a precedent for future peace talks and are often pointed to as proving that negotiations are possible. Sadat and Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts (Carter was awarded the prize in 2002 for his longtime focus on international relations). But other Arab nations were unhappy with Egypt’s formal recognition of Israel, and the coalition known as the Arab League expelled Egypt as a result.
Did you know ... ?
The relationship between Egypt and Israel was so unfriendly that the negotiation teams from the two nations refused to even be in the same room together at Camp David. Carter and his envoys had to visit each party separately in order to conduct negotiations.
How are the Camp David Accords discussed in real life?
Much discussion of the Camp David Accords focuses on their long-term impact on the Middle East, as well as the lengths to which Carter went to make sure the negotiations happened.
while we're all talking Camp David, the enduring feature of the Camp David accords in the nearly half-century since they were signed is that peace built between governments alone is at best incomplete and the omission of key stakeholders guarantees unresolved tensions for years
— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) September 8, 2019
Back when diplomacy mattered. This week is the 41st Anniv. of the Camp David Accords that led to peace between Israel and Egypt. Israeli PM Begin, U.S. Pres. Carter, and Egyptian Pres. Sadat at Camp David. Carter brokered this great achievement that endures to this day. pic.twitter.com/WqVI1Cq8P1
— David Hume Kennerly (@kennerly) September 18, 2019
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True or false?
U.S. President Gerald Ford acted as the mediator between the leaders of Egypt and Israel at Camp David in 1978.