The Camp David Accords

An examination of the causes and consequences of the Camp David Accords.


Reprinted with permission from

[…P]ractically the entire world condemned Israel after the Yom Kippur War. The United States put tremendous pressure on Israel to come to a settlement with Egypt over the Sinai, with Jordan over the West Bank, and with Syria over the Golan. Israel refused to talk with any representatives of the PLO. Jordan and Syria refused to talk until Israel returned the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

Henry Kissinger [then US secretary of state] spent much of 1974 traveling between Israel and Egypt, speaking with each side separately because Egypt refused to be in the same room with Israel’s representatives. This procedure, called “shuttle diplomacy,” succeeded in establishing cease‑fire lines in the Sinai.

Israel agreed to withdraw east of the important mountain passes of Mitla and Gidi provided that detection equipment could be placed to note any Egyptian troop movement which would indicate a breaking of the cease‑fire agreement. However, it was clear to everyone that both sides were deeply entrenched in their policy positions, and there was little room for further compromise or negotiation.

Menachem Begin immediately invited him, and Sadat arrived on November 19. In addressing the Knesset, Sadat acknowledged Israel was “an existing fact,” thus giving formal recognition to Israel. As a result of the negotiations between Sadat and Begin, Israel agreed to evacuate the Sinai on condition that Egyptian troops would not cross the Mitla and Gidi Passes. Face‑to‑face negotiations had begun.When the right‑wing Likud party won the elections in Israel in 1977, the United States feared that even these peace negotiations would grind to a halt. To the world’s shock, on September 10, 1977, Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, announced his willingness to visit Israel. It was the first time an Arab leader had shown readiness to recognize Israel.

With the support, encouragement, and “nudging” of President Carter, the two sides slowly worked out the wording of a complex agreement which included Israel’s evacuation of the Sinai and a framework for conducting negotiations for establishing autonomy for Gaza and “Judea/Samaria” (the West Bank). This agreement, signed in September 1978, was called the Camp David Accord [named for the US presidential retreat at which the agreement was brokered]. It was followed by months of negotiations as the two nations struggled to write a mutually acceptable peace treaty. Concerning the issue of the Palestinians, the treaty remained purposely vague so each side could interpret it in the way it wanted.

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