The Camp David Accord
By 1978 the thirty-year war that had been fought between Egypt and Israel had come to a point where there was a chance for peace. The area that had been at the center of the turmoil was the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip. The problem was that both countries believed that they had the rights to this land: Israel, biblically and Egypt, politically. So an invitation by President Jimmy Carter to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel was extended. The invitation was for a meeting in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland at the presidential retreat, Camp David. The meeting was so that the framework of a peace agreement, known as the Camp David Accord, could be laid out between Sadat and Begin, with Carter as the mediator. Both Sadat and Begin had their reputations and their countries’ futures on the line, not to mention the future of the Middle East. All of the countries neighboring Egypt and Israel would be affected by an Egyptian/Israeli agreement of any kind and maybe encouraged to come to an agreement of some sort for that region.
A lot of problems had to be overcome for this summit to be a success. One of them was that the hatred and suspicions between President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin ran very deep. Another problem was that the outside pressures were too strong to permit an easy and early resolve for issues that had a long and ancient history (Mideast 26). The last problem was the hope that President Carter could put out of his mind the psychological profiles done by the CIA on both Begin and
Sadat, which could have adversely affected his ability to mediate the proceedings.
The long-standing hatred between Sadat and Begin was not one of a personal nature. It had more to do with the political differences of their two countries. Israel has held that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were theirs because of the establishment of the State of Israel, out of what was Palestine in 1948 and by right of heredity. This was the land that God had told Moses was the Jewish Promised Land. The Egyptians, on the other hand, claimed that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were theirs. They based their claim on the fact that there were Egyptian citizens living in these areas at the time, the State of Israel was established, so therefore it must be Egyptian land.
In advance of the summit, the President received in-depth psychological profiles of both Sadat and Begin from the CIA (Blitzer 48). The American delegates thought that if the Egyptian and Israeli leaders were to budge it would be necessary to understand them and the way they thought (Blitzer 48). It was also decided that the Camp David meetings would be completely unstructured, without even an agenda to get them started, (Three 227) the hope was that this would be more conducive to the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. As the summit convened, Rosalynn Carter (President Carter’s wife) recognized that the three men had one thing in common, that is, their deep religious convictions (Blitzer 48). She suggested that the summit begin with some sort of prayer. So on September 6, 1978, as the summit was starting, the three leaders issued a prayer for peace to the world, saying: “Conscious of the grave issues which face us, we place our trust in the God of our fathers, from whom we seek wisdom and guidance” (Mideast 29).
With this the Camp David summit started. In the beginning, both Sadat and Begin seemed willing to have sit-down face to face talks about the issues that were in front of them, evident by the fact the two men had come this far. But it soon became obvious that a three way sit down approach between President Carter and the two leaders was going to be counter productive. Within the first ten days of the summit, Sadat and Begin sat down together on only two days for a total of seven hours (Mideast 26). This was due in large part to some sticky points the two leaders could