Camp David Accords a Case Study on International Negotiation Case Study

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Camp David Accords

Camp Davids


There are several tools of statecraft which can be classified as economic, military or political in nature. Negotiations, International laws, alliances and public diplomacy are the main instruments of politics used by the politicians to resolve the issues and problems at national and international levels. This paper discusses how the political tool of statecraft was used by nations to solve the problems.

Negotiations take place when two or more than two parties use the diplomatic means instead of military means to settle a problem, issue or conflict that is shared by both of them[footnoteRef:1]. Negotiations should not be confused with the reconciliation or compromise, in which one party wins and other losses, but it is actually a bargaining process, conducted by both parties in order to get the economic and territorial gains. [1: Hopman, Terrence. Bargaining and Problem-Solving: Two Perspectives on International Negotiation. Washington. Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, 2001. p. 457]

This paper discusses the famous case of International Negotiations "The Camp David Accords" which was the end result of a 13 day series talks held in November 1977. These negotiations were mediated by America, to solve the issues between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. This case is considered as one of the longest lasting and an effective negotiated agreement between Israel and any Arab country. There were many important factors and interest of both nations; Egypt and Israel which brought these two incompatible players in the ground for making agreement and stable peace on behalf of their nations.

There have been several debates regarding the interest of both nations and their role in this game. This "Camp David Accords" case gives the lesson of diplomacy and shows how the different instruments of power (finance, economic, information, diplomacy etc.) are used by the nations in the bargaining process to achieve their desired goals and interests.

This paper discusses in detail the role played by Egypt in this case, the strategies used by it in the bargaining process and its interests in doing the agreement. The last part of the paper will also discuss how successful was Egypt in achieving its goals.

Thesis Statement: The Camp David Accords negotiations between Sadat, Carter and Begin show impressive implementation of the instruments of power and are rich with the lessons of diplomacy for students.

Before proceeding, it is important to know; what were the basic issues to deal with Camp David. Following were the four basic issues[footnoteRef:2]: [2: Telhami, Shibley. "Evaluating Bargaining Performance: The Case of Camp David." Political Science Quarterly. vol 107, no 4. 1992-93. Pp. 629-53.]

1) To sign a peace treaty and normalize relations between Egypt and Israel

2) To remove Israeli military troops from Sinai Peninsula

3) To solve out the issues and link them with the future of West Bank and Gaza

4) To make a statement on principals, which includes the withdrawal of Israel from all the territories that it has occupied and give the self-determination rights to the Palestinians


The steps taken by Egyptian President might look surprising in this case but if we look in detail we find out that these were actually the best moves available to him and he choose a perfect strategy for solving the issues.

The first step taken by President Anwar Sadat was going to Jerusalem; by doing this he officially recognized Israel, which is something, no other Arab state has done. He knew very well that many Egyptians will be against his this step but due to the symbolic and historic value, being diplomatic with Israel was one of the powerful cards that Sadat had that time. His trip was dangerous as he himself was not sure; if his step of giving bargaining leverage will really bring good results.

Now the question is; if he was not sure if his move will be useful or not, then why did he take it? The answer to this question is; because he was worried that there could be another Geneva Conference. The first Geneva Conference was held in 1975, which failed because parties could not reach to a mutual agreement.

Sadat did not wanted to have another conference because he was not interested in dealing with the Soviets and he was also afraid that if this Conference will held again than Egypt will not be able to regain the control of Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had taken from it in the war of 1967[footnoteRef:3]. [3: Touval, Saadia. The Peace Brokers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1982. Pg. 288.]

Sadat knew well that the power of Egypt in the Arab world was eroding day by day. Therefore he focused to reassert his leadership role and made this best possible strategy in order to maintain good relationship with the United States and work with Israel. This way he also got rid of the Geneva Process.

Sadat also knew that the Arab world will not let him work with Israel; therefore he tried to make his trip in a dramatic move and gave it name of a peace process. Furthermore, he also knew well that people give more importance to the symbolic gestures than to the secret deals; therefore keeping in mind the psychological effects he made a high visibility trip to Jerusalem giving it name of a peace treaty and tried to minimize the expected negative reaction from the Arab World[footnoteRef:4]. [4: Caplan, Neil and Eisenberg, Laura. Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1998. p.39.]

His gambling worked and his passionate in the Parliament of Israel really played a significant role in showing a new reality to the Israelis. Begin was pressurized to take benefit from the new opportunity and move forward for peace.

Sadat however, received a mixed response from his country; some Egyptians expressed their support for this new step taken by President while some did not appreciate this step at all. Whatever the response be; in initial stage Sadat's visit to Jerusalem did achieve its main goal, which was to create such an atmosphere for Begin in which Begin could respond with concession of his own.


Sadat was able to make dominant strategy and take this step because fortunately it was in the benefit of domestic as well as international interests of Egypt. The economy of Egypt had deteriorated badly during in the 1970 due to the large defense expenses.

Sadat wanted to cover up for the losses and he knew that it was possible by two things; 1) Egypt gets high investments from its neighbors who are rich in oil and 2) Egypt reduces its military spending. Sadat could only cut his defence budget if he was assured that Israel will no more give a threat to it; therefore he agreed on this peace treaty according to which Israel will take back its troops from Sinai Peninsula. Furthermore, he also knew that all this was also not possible without active role of United States;[footnoteRef:5] therefore he tried to maintain good relations with U.S. As well as Israel in order to achieve his targets. [5: Stein, Janis Gross. "The Political Economy of Security Agreements." Double-Edged Diplomacy. Ed. Peter B. Evans, Harold K. Jacobson, and Robert D. Putnam. Berkeley: California UP, 1993. pp.77-103.]

Keeping in mind all these points, Sadat made a diplomatic strategy to satisfy both, the Americans as well as Arabs. Satisfying Americans was easy; simply by showing Israel's narrow mindedness to Americans, but making Arabs happy was difficult aim for him. This is because he had already taken a step of recognizing Israel, which resulted in negative reaction of Arabs. In order to get his position and support back, he wanted Israel to withdraw from all territories that they occupied earlier, so that Sadat can show and prove his concern for the self autonomy of Palestinians. This way, Sadat made these two important goals as the bottom line at the Camp David.


The negotiations and the bargain process at Camp David was not a simple and easy issue to be resolved. These negotiations were conducted in isolation; press was not allowed to attend the proceedings and members stayed away from the outside world.

The process lasted for 13 days with lot of problems, misunderstandings and shouts between the Egyptian and Israeli Prime Minister. There was also a time when Sadat's delegation got frustrated and started packing their bags. It was almost impossible that these two parties could come up with a mutual agreement but President Carter of United States made it possible. Although he was chosen only as a mediator but for sure United States had personal interests in the negotiations. President Carter negotiated with each party individually and after long discussions of 13 days and lot of quarrels, finally they reached to some agreement.


Finally two leaders signed a formal peace treaty and agreed to normalize their relations. The…

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