208). Begin could tell the Israeli community that the Egyptian made extreme demands and the Americans didn't handle the negotiations very well. Begin's more "militant supporters" in Israel would back him up no matter the outcome, Quandt explains (p. 208).
A for Sadat, he believed that he and Carter already had a preliminary agreement that would "force the Israelis to make significant concessions"; hence, Sadat would put "all his cards face up on the table before the president," helping Carter to "manage the inevitable confrontation with Begin" (Quandt, p. 208). Sadat told the American delegation "repeatedly" that an agreement between the U.S. And Egypt "was more important to him than an Egyptian-Israeli agreement."
The only worry that Begin had, Quandt asserts on page 208, is that if the talks failed, Carter "might blame him for the failure, go public with that judgment, and try to mobilize American public opinion against him." But the president had said publicly several times that he would "never…threaten to cut economic or military aid to Israel as a form of pressure" and moreover Carter had pledged not to "impose an American peace plan" on Israel, Quandt explained. The president was in a strong position in any event, because both the Egyptians and the Israelis were anxious to have him side with them.
Entering the negotiations, Sadat had said Israel could "have everything except land," and for his part Begin was "just as firm in saying he would never be the prime minister of Israel" who would made a deal that gave away the West Bank, nor would he agree to give away East Jerusalem, Quandt writes on page 209. Sadat was hoping that by using the bait of "major" Egyptian security and political concessions he could get Begin to agree to withdraw from the occupied territories. If somehow he could get a deal with Israel, he could claim credit not only for Egypt but for the Arab world, that he had established the principles on which "a fair peace could be negotiated" (Quandt, p. 211).
The devout Muslim population in Egypt would accuse him of selling out his country if he did not insist on Israel giving up right to the West Bank, Gaza, and especially East Jerusalem. Author Quandt, who was a member of Carter's National Security Council and participated in the discussions before, during, and after Camp David, said he along with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and others roughed out a plan for the talks. The paper they prepared was called "The Pivotal Issue: The Sinai/West Bank Relationship"; it was based in large part on the ideas that the Egyptians and Israelis had put forward.
The key and salient point in Quandt's preliminary document was the design of a plan that would establish an "interim regime" for the West Bank and Gaza (assuming that Israel would leave) (p. 213). This interim-governing regime would give the Palestinians a "serious measure of self-government" and would pave the way for a "second phase of negotiations," Quandt writes. That second phase of negotiations would approach the issue of Palestinian rights, the borders that would come into play, the sovereignty issues and more. The document also alluded to a U.N. Resolutions (242) that advocated "territory for peace" and it inferred Carter's long-held position that the Palestinians should absolutely have the right to be part of any dialogue that points to their future as a culture and a political entity (Quandt, p. 213).
Prior to the actual meeting between the three leaders, naturally there were the customary diplomatic letters back and forth. Bernard Reich's book, Arab-Israeli Conflict and Conciliation: A Documentary History has reprinted some of the correspondence that took place between the principal parties. Begin wrote to Carter (September 17, 1978) that when he arrives back home from the negotiations he will put the following question to members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) "…Are you in favor of the removal of the Israeli settlers from the… Sinai areas or are you in favor of keeping the aforementioned settlers in those areas?" (Reich, 1995, p. 152).
Carter sent a copy of the letter to Sadat, adding that he understood Sadat's position that all settlers must be removed from Sinai...
152). Sadat wrote back to Carter that without an agreement on the point that "All Israeli settlers" be pulled back from Sinai "according to a timetable" -- and an agreement that this "basic principle" is a "prerequisite to starting peace negotiations for concluding a peace treaty" (Reich, p. 152).
Were there other international players involved, affected, and if so, how?
After the Camp David negotiations were concluded, a majority of Arab leaders (the Arab League) met in Baghdad on November 5, 1978; the communique issued following that meeting stated that the Camp David accords were "rejected…on the grounds that they harmed the Palestinian cause and contravened resolutions [made in previous conferences] forbidding unilateral Arab action in settling the Middle East conflict or solving the Palestinian problem" (Reich, p. 154). Further, the Arab leaders that met in Baghdad insisted in the communique that any solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people should be based on "joint Arab action decided at an Arab summit" (Reich, p. 154). To show their disapproval of Egypt even participating in these negotiations, the Arab League's leaders moved their headquarters out of Egypt and into Tunis. After the Arab League concluded its meeting, the communique called upon Egypt to "abrogate these agreements" and not sign "any reconciliation treaty with the enemy" (Reich, p. 155).
Other nations became involved in the process, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In a document called "Camp David Accords," the Israel ministry explained that the Camp David Accords -- vis-a-vis the Palestinian solution -- would result in negotiations between Egypt, Israel, Jordan and representatives of the West Bank and Gaza (MFA). The inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza would vote on whether or not to accept the accords. Involving Jordan (a country that borders Israel) was geographically necessary, but politically expedient at the same time.
What was the mediation strategy of Carter?
By the third day of the summit at Camp David, president Carter's strategy (referenced earlier as having turned into a shouting match) has "unraveled," according to an article in the Public Broadcasting Service. In fact, "It was mean," Carter told his wife. "They were brutal with each other, personal" (PBS). So Carter took charge and began shuttling back and forth between the two, and kept the two leaders apart.
"Another key tactic was Carter's decision to separate the Sinai issue from the more difficult Palestinian issue," the PBS article explained. The first would be a peace treaty in which Israel would return the Sinai territory to Egypt and in turn Egypt would recognize Israel diplomatically (which it had never done), Israel would get access to the Suez Canal (which Israel did not have previously) and there would be a limited number or Egyptian military troops on the border between the two countries (PBS).
The second document would deal with the Palestinian problem. And Carter's role in the negotiations became more powerful as at one point towards the end of the 12 days at Camp David, he "threw everybody out of his cabin, got down on the floor with the maps, with his yellow pad, and outlined what they could do," according to media advisor Gerald Rafshoon (PBS).
What were the results of the Camp David peace talks?
In the spring of 1990 journalist Mitchell Bard writes that the final peace treaty -- signed by Egypt and Israel in March, 1979 -- has brought "stability to Egyptian-Israeli relations" (Bard, 1990, p. 2). The author notes that the southern border of Israel has been "secured" and moreover, the most "powerful Arab state" (Egypt) has apparently been "eliminated from the coalition of forces against it." Even after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the treaty between Israel and Egypt held fast (albeit, to appease the Arab world, Egypt withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv in order to condemn the actions of Israel).
Tragically Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by members of an extremist group in Egypt that objected to the peace treaty with Israel. However, when Hosni Mubarak, Sadat's successor, took over the presidency of Egypt, he insisted that he was not prepared to cancel the treaty. "We are neighbors; we enjoy peace and cooperation" (Bard, p. 3).
Conclusion: While there remain serious political and cultural differences between Israel and the Palestinians, the peace treaty signed by Sadat and Begin back in 1979 has held up fairly well all these years. Jimmy Carter is to be given a lot of credit for his hard work in bringing the two leaders together, and bringing about a settlement that has lasted thirty-three…
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