Camp David Summit (2000)

views updated May 17 2018


failed israelipalestinian negotiations, mediated by the united states (11 july24 july 2000).

At the initiative of President Bill Clinton and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, an IsraeliPalestinian summit was convened at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, on 11 July 2000 to discuss the final-status issues foreshadowed by the 1993 Oslo Accords regarding such issues as Jerusalem, Jewish settlements, Palestinian refugees, and the borders of a Palestinian state. Because no official records or documents were exchanged, most public knowledge about the discussions comes from some of the participants and the media.

Regarding Jerusalem, Israel reportedly proposed turning some Palestinian villages and neighborhoods over to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and allowing Palestinian autonomy in the Muslim and Christian quarters within the Old City, with Israel retaining sovereignty over the rest of East Jerusalem and the Old City. The Palestinians reportedly proposed that East Jerusalem should be capital of the new Palestinian state and that Israel should withdraw to its pre-June 1967 borders, in accordance with UN Resolution 242.

On the issue of refugees, the Palestinians maintained the 3.7 million Palestinian refugees should have the right of return to their homes in what is now Israel or the right to receive compensation, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948. Israel rejected the right of return as a demographic threat to its Jewish character and denied that Israel had any legal or moral responsibility for the refugee problem. However, it would permit the return of a large but limited number of refugees to the state of Palestine under Israeli supervision and would allow some Palestinians to return to Israel as a family reunification measure.

Regarding Jewish settlements (of which there were in 1999 some 125, with about 200,000 settlers), Israel apparently proposed annexing some 10 percent of the West Bank territory, in which some 80 percent of the settlers lived, and ceding the remaining 90 percent to the Palestinians. The Palestinians disputed these figures because they did not include Jerusalem, parts of the Jordan Valley (which the Israelis wanted to lease for a long period), and other areas. The Palestinians were prepared to accept Israeli annexation of the largest West Bank settlement blocs, although they objected to the size, in exchange for an equal amount of territory in Israel of similar arable quality. After fourteen intense days of negotiations, the parties could not bridge their differences.

In the months and years following the summit, each side blamed the other for the failure. In a failed effort to ensure Barak's reelection, President Clinton publicly blamed Yasir Arafat, despite the fact that he had promised the Palestine Liberation Organization chairmanwho had been reluctant to come to the summit because he said the parties were not preparedthat he would not be blamed if the discussions broke down. Barak also vigorously blamed Arafat, who he said was intent on the destruction of Israel, even though Arafat had championed the two-state solution embodied in the Oslo Accords in 1993 and had recognized Israel and endorsed UN Resolution 242 a dozen years before. The Palestinians blamed Barak, even though he was politically courageous in making far-reaching proposals, a number of which broke long-standing Israeli taboos, such as sharing Jerusalem, returning 90 percent of West Bank lands, and swapping territory.

The media and public of all sides accepted their governments' respective official versions, even though each was a distortion of what happened at Camp David. In reality, all three sides contributed to the breakdown of the negotiations. Barak wasted several months negotiating with Syria; reneged on a third partial redeployment of troops from the West Bank and on handing over three villages near Jerusalem to the PA; continued to confiscate Palestinian land for Jewish settlements and access roads; and allowed for the increase of settlers in the territories, all of which raised suspicions among Palestinians about his sincerity. At Oslo, Barak's negotiating stylerefusing to negotiate directly with Arafat, revising supposedly final offers, and presenting take-it-or-leave-it proposalsfurther alienated the Palestinians, who viewed him as arrogant. His demand for sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount was difficult for Arafat to accept for fear of Palestinian, Arab, and international Muslim reaction. In addition, Barak's offer, while generous from an Israeli point of view, would not have allowed for a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, in addition to being unprepared, seemed bereft of any strategy, were internally divided, andmost significantlydid not make serious, clear, and specific counteroffers to the Israeli side. Arafatwhose popularity was declining due to his inability to stop the settlement expansion and the obvious corruption in the PA, and who feared a trap by the Israelis and the Americanswas reluctant to make major concessions and seemed more interested in surviving the negotiations than in viewing them as a historic opportunity for peace.

The Americans ignored the extent to which settlement expansion had poisoned the peace process among the Palestinians and insisted on convening a meeting for which none of the parties was truly prepared. Although they were supposed to be honest brokers, their positiondue to domestic pressure and the cultural and strategic relationship between the United States and Israelwas so close to the Israelis' that at times they presented Israeli positions. It was not until after Camp David that the United States presented its own position, called the Clinton proposals, on 23 December 2000. After the failure at Camp David, Palestinian and Israeli teams resumed negotiations in Taba, Egypt, and thanks to Clinton's suggestions, considerably narrowed their differences. The process begun at Camp David might have thus ended successfully, but time ran out whenagainst the backdrop of the escalating violence of the al-Aqsa intifadaClinton left office on 20 January 2001 and Barak was defeated by Ariel Sharon in the Israeli elections of 6 February 2001.

see also aqsa intifada, al-; arafat, yasir; barak, ehud; clinton, william jefferson; haram al-sharif; oslo accord (1993); palestine liberation organization (plo); sharon, ariel; united nations and the middle east.


Enderlin, Charles. Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 19952002. New York: Other Press, 2003.

Malley, Robert, and Agha, Hussein. "Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors." New York Review of Books : 9 August 2001.

Pressman, Jeremy. "Visions in Collision: What Happened at Camp David and Taba?" International Security, 28, no. 2 (fall 2003), 543. Available from <>.

Sontag, Deborah. "Quest for Middle East Peace: How and Why It Failed." New York Times : 26 July 2001.

Philip Mattar

Camp David Accords (1978)

views updated May 14 2018


agreements signed by egypt, israel, and the united states on 17 september 1978.

In November 1977, Egyptian president Anwar alSadat shocked the world by announcing his readiness to travel to Israel to resolve the ArabIsrael conflict, and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin promptly issued an invitation. Sadat's visit to Israel on 19 and 20 November included an electrifying speech before the Knesset and inaugurated a series of unprecedented direct EgyptianIsraeli peace negotiations. The talks bogged down, however, over Israel's withdrawal from and Egypt's demilitarization of the Sinai and the future status of Gaza and the West Bank (all occupied by Israel in the June 1967 war), and over terms of normalization between Israel and Egypt. When it appeared that the negotiations would collapse, U.S. president Jimmy Carter invited Sadat and Begin to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

The Camp David conference, 5 through 17 September 1978, ended with two accords signed by Egypt, Israel, and the United States: "A Framework for Peace in the Middle East" and "A Framework for Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel." Participants included the three leaders, their foreign and defense ministers, and teams of top civilian and military officials. Sadat and Begin's acrimonious relationship threatened to derail the conference, but President Carter's personal intervention saved it from failure. Sadat and Begin later received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The relatively straightforward framework for an EgyptIsrael peace embraced UN Security Council Resolution 242 and called for a treaty implementing the land-for-peace principle: Israel would return the Sinai to Egypt and Egypt would make peace with Israel. Also anticipated was the full normalization of diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations. The EgyptianIsraeli Peace Treaty of 26 March 1979 conformed to these September 1978 expectations.

With its complex and problematic formula for Palestinian self-rule, the framework for Middle East peace was crucial to Sadat's defense against Arab charges that he had sold the Palestinians short by making a separate peace with Israel. The other Arab states were invited to follow Sadat to the negotiating table. This framework envisioned Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and representatives of the Palestinians negotiating a five-year, three-stage plan for the future of Gaza and the West Bank, including full autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza; the withdrawal of Israel's military government and civilian administration; the election of a self-governing Palestinian authority; and the redeployment of Israeli forces. Final-status negotiations during the five-year transitional period would resolve the disposition of the West Bank and Gaza, the refugee problem, and the entire IsraeliPalestinian conflict in a manner that would "recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements."

The Camp David Accords were not without opposition. The Knesset ratified the agreements, but more members of the opposition than of the prime minister's coalition supported them. Those who abstained or voted against them scored Begin for accepting the precedent of territorial concessions for peace and for recognizing the Palestinian people as a negotiating partner. In Egypt, opposition elements, including Islamic, Nasserist, and other Arab nationalist groups, protested the peace negotiations with Israel. No Arab states supported the accords, and the Palestinians, aware of Begin's extremely narrow interpretation of "full autonomy," rejected them and demanded statehood. The refusal of the Palestinians and Jordan (the latter mentioned no less than fifteen times in the document) to cooperate with Egypt and Israel made the "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" a dead letter. Dependent only upon the actions of Egypt and Israel themselves, however, the second of Camp David's two frameworks"For the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty Between Egypt and Israel"came to fruition in the signing of the EgyptianIsraeli Peace Treaty of March 1979.

see also begin, menachem; carter, jimmy; egyptianisraeli peace treaty (1979); gaza strip; knesset; sadat, anwar al-; west bank.


Bar-Siman-Tov, Yaacov. Israel and the Peace Process, 19771982: In Search of Legitimacy for Peace. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Carter, Jimmy. Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President. New York: Bantam, 1982.

Dayan, Moshe. Breakthrough: A Personal Account of the Egypt Israel Peace Negotiations. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981.

Eisenberg, Laura Zittrain, and Caplan, Neil. Negotiating ArabIsraeli Peace: Patterns, Problems, and Possibilities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

Kamel, Mohammed Ibrahim. The Camp David Accords: A Testimony. London: Kegan Paul, 1986.

Quandt, William B. Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1986.

Telhami, Shibley. Power and Leadership in International Bargaining: The Path to the Camp David Accords. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Don Peretz

Updated by Laura Z. Eisenberg

Camp David Accords

views updated May 14 2018

Camp David Accords (1978).The Camp David Accords, which outlined a framework for a comprehensive Middle East peace, were initialed on 17 September 1978 by U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat following a two‐week conference at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. The Camp David process began in November 1977, when Sadat made an unprecedented visit to Israel, where he told Israeli leaders that Egypt was willing to make a lasting peace if they were willing to withdraw from Arab territory occupied during the 1967 and 1973 wars. Despite encouragement from Washington, the Israeli‐Egyptian negotiations stalled during the spring of 1978, prompting Carter to invite Sadat and Begin to Camp David in September.

Adopting a low‐key approach, Carter was able to make surprising progress on the bilateral Israeli‐Egyptian front. The Israelis indicated that, in return for a formal peace treaty with Egypt, they would pull their troops out of the Sinai Desert and would also dismantle the handful of Jewish settlements recently established in the troubled isthmus. The major sticking point was the fate of the Israeli‐occupied West Bank, an oblong bulge of Jordanian territory that 800,000 Palestinians called home. Fearing that he would be branded a traitor who had sold out the Arab cause if he agreed to a bilateral Egyptian‐Israeli peace treaty without resolving the Palestinian dilemma, Sadat insisted that Begin agree to autonomy for the West Bank Arabs. Unwilling to abandon territory that had been part of ancient Israel and that was now also home to several thousand Jewish settlers, Begin adamantly refused to accept the principle of Palestinian self‐determination on the West Bank. With the two sides deadlocked and the Camp David conference on the verge of collapse, Carter brokered an eleventh‐hour compromise by arranging two parallel but separate agreements, one on the Sinai and the other on the West Bank. Sadat pledged to recognize Israel and to sign a formal peace treaty with Begin in return for an Israeli promise to withdraw from the Sinai. Begin agreed temporarily to suspend Israeli settlements on the West Bank and promised to negotiate “new arrangements” with “representatives of the Palestinian people.”

Implementing the Camp David Accords, however, proved more difficult than Carter and his advisers had imagined. To be sure, the lure of a multi‐billion‐dollar U.S. aid package and the promise that several hundred American troops would monitor the Sinai frontier helped persuade Sadat and Begin to sign a peace treaty in Washington on 26 March 1979, and within three years all Israeli troops and settlers had departed from Egyptian soil. But the West Bank negotiations were stillborn, largely because the Palestinian clauses in the Camp David agreements were subject to radically different interpretations by the Israelis, the Arabs, and the Americans. During the next decade, Begin and his successor, Yitzhak Shamir, expanded the number of Israeli settlements on the West Bank dramatically; the Palestinians responded by launching an uprising—the Intifada—in late 1987, and the peace process stalemated, resuming in earnest only after Yitzhak Rabin was elected prime minister in 1992. The Oslo peace accords hammered out between 1993 to 1995, whereby the Israelis agreed ultimately to grant self‐government to the Palestinians on the West Bank, had their roots in the Camp David Accords of 1978.
[See also Middle East, U.S. Involvement in the.]


Jimmy Carter , Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President, 1982.
Steven Spiegel , The Other Arab‐Israeli Conflict: Making America's Middle East Policy from Truman to Reagan, 1985.
William Quandt , Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics, 1986.

Douglas Little

Camp David Accords

views updated May 17 2018


The signing of these accords, in September 1978, resulted from the American desire to establish durable peace in the Middle East and from a process of negotiations started between the Israeli government, led by Menachem Begin, and Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. Immediately upon his coming to power in Israel, in June 1977, Menachem Begin, leader of Israeli right-wing party Herut, made a number of gestures toward the Arab countries in an attempt to resolve the Arab–Israeli contentions arising from the 1967 Arab-Israel War as well as the 1973 war. His Labor Party foreign minister, Moshe Dayan, participated in numerous secret meetings with Arab leaders, while U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger tried to convince the Israelis and Egyptians of the need to come to a peace agreement. These steps concluded, on 9 November 1977, in the historic trip of President Sadat to Israel, which in turn brought about, in early December, the creation of a Refusal Front uniting Arab countries opposed to a negotiated peace with Israel.

A year later, after intense negotiations under the supervision of then-U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Begin and Sadat signed two general agreements at Camp David on 17 September 1978. The first defined the basis of a solution to the Israeli-Egyptian conflict: restitution of the Egyptian territories occupied by Israel in exchange for a peace treaty. The second, which concerned the Palestinian question, stipulated that any solution must take into account "the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestine people" and specified that the latter would exercise full and complete autonomy within a five-year period. At the end of this period, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestinian delegates would negotiate the final status of the territories with Israel. However, the Palestinians in the territories, overwhelmingly supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization in this matter, rejected the accord, about which they had not been consulted. On 27 October 1978, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Sadat and Begin. On 26 March 1979, in spite of the Palestinian rejection, Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement ending thirty years of belligerence. Following the signing, the member countries of the Arab League transferred the headquarters of the organization from Cairo, Egypt, to Tunis. Eighteen Arab countries recalled their ambassadors from Cairo. On 6 October 1981, President Sadat was assassinated in Cairo. On 25 April 1982, with the dismantling of the last Jewish colonies, Egypt reestablished sovereignty over the whole of its territory, including the Sinai.

SEE ALSO Arab-Israel War (1967);Arab-Israel War (1973);Begin, Menachem;Dayan, Moshe;Herut Party;League of Arab States;Palestine Liberation Organization;Sadat, Anwar al-.

Camp David Accords

views updated May 29 2018

Camp David Accords

The Camp David Accords were historic agreements for peace in the Middle East that were developed with the help of U.S. president Jimmy Carter (1924–; served 1977–81). At his Maryland presidential retreat, Carter met with Menachem Begin (1913–1992), prime minister of Israel, and Anwar El-Sadat (1918–1981), president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, over a twelve-day period in 1978. The announcement of the Camp David Accords marked a major breakthrough in bringing peace to the troubled region.

An issue of land

For hundreds of years, the Middle East (regions in Southwest Asia and parts of North Africa) has been the site of conflict that is at once political, cultural, and religious in nature. The battles have been numerous and bloody. In particular, the conflict over a region called Palestine emerged as the most serious issue for the area in the twentieth century. Palestine is made up of parts of modern-day Israel, territories of the Gaza Strip (along the Mediterranean Sea), and the West Bank (area west of the Jordan River).

In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition (divide) Palestine. There was to be a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an independent Jerusalem state. The Arabs did not approve of this plan. When the Jews claimed Israel as an independent state, the Arabs refused to recognize it because 75 percent of former Palestine was within its borders. The Arabs also refused to create their own separate state. War broke out with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Transjordan (now known as Jordan) leading the attack on Israel. By the end of the war, two-thirds of the Arab population in Palestine had lost their homes and were expected to assimilate (adapt and blend) into surrounding cultures. The Arab-Israeli conflict had begun.

Diplomacy at work

When Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, one of his goals was to resolve the conflict in the Middle East. He met with Begin and Sadat September 5–17, 1978, at Camp David. Carter's determination not to leave until some sort of peace had been reached fueled the negotiations and kept the warring countries’ leaders from leaving the talks when the situation got tense.

The first accord is called “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East.” The second is titled “A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty Between Egypt and Israel,” and it led to the formal Egypt-Israeli Peace Treaty signed in March 1979. The agreements outlined how relations between the two countries would proceed in terms of political independence. They also call for billions of dollars of assistance given annually from the United States to both Israel and Egypt. This subsidy is still being provided in the twenty-first century.

The Camp David Accords did not solve all the problems of the Middle East. As a direct result of his willingness to negotiate, Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by a radical group of Arabs. But while many Egyptians were unhappy with the accords, they could not deny the many economic and political advantages the agreements provided. The world's perception of Egypt changed markedly as a result of the Camp David Accords.

Camp David Peace Accords

views updated May 29 2018


CAMP DAVID PEACE ACCORDS, a set of agreements between Egypt and Israel signed on 17 September 1978. The agreements were the culmination of years of negotiations for peace in the Middle East. Acting as a peace broker, President Jimmy Carter convinced Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to reach a compromise in their disputes.

Peace in the Middle East had been a goal of the international community for much of the preceding thirty years. After a year of stalled talks, President Sadat announced in November 1977 that he would visit Israel and personally address the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Speaking to the Knesset, Sadat announced his desire for peace between Egypt and Israel. While a seemingly small statement, it was a substantial step forward in the Middle East peace process. Up to that point, Egypt and its Arab allies had rejected Israel's right to exist. Despite Sadat's gesture, the anticipated renewal of negotiations failed to materialize.

In the following months, after several unsuccessful attempts to renew talks, President Carter invited Begin and Sadat to the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. After twelve days of talks, the leaders reached two agreements: "A Framework for Peace in the Middle East" and "A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty Between Egypt and Israel." The first treaty addressed the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, areas of land that Israel had occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. The agreement provided for a transitional period, during which the interested parties would reach a settlement on the status of the territories. The second accord provided that Egypt and Israel would sign a peace treaty within three months. It also arranged for a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai Peninsula and the dismantling of Israeli settlements there. In exchange, Egypt promised to establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel.

While the two nations faced difficulty implementing many details, the Camp David Peace Accords represented an important step in the Middle East peace process. On 26 March 1979, Israel and Egypt signed their historic peace treaty in Washington, D.C., hosted by President Carter. It was an important moment for Middle East peace and the crowning achievement in Carter's foreign policy.


Dayan, Moshe. Breakthrough: A Personal Account of the Egypt– Israel Peace Negotiations. New York: Knopf, 1981.

Kamel, Mohamed Ibrahim. The Camp David Accords: A Testimony. London: KPI, 1986.

Quandt, William B. Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1986.

Stephanie WilsonMcConnell

See alsoEgypt, Relations with ; Israel, Relations with .

Camp David Accord

views updated May 14 2018

Camp David Accord (September 1978) Significant step towards Arab-Israeli reconciliation. The agreement resulted from a meeting between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel, mediated by US President Jimmy Carter at the US presidential retreat in the mountains of Maryland. Condemned by other Arab leaders, the agreement formed the basis of a 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel. Sadat and Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.

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