Friday, March 27, 2009

Camp David, 30 years on

30 years ago yesterday Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords. The peace treaty brought peace between the two after wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. This was the first time an Arab country recognised Israel. It came as a surprise to many that the first country to make peace with Israel was the largest most powerful and most hostile of the Arab states. American President Jimmy Carter brokered the deal with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The gist of the deal was Egyptian recognition of Israel in exchange for a return of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Thirty years later the treaty has never been violated and Egypt remains one of only two Arab nations to have relations with Israel, Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994.

Legacy of the Treaty
The treaty is generally seen in Israel as a good thing. The agreement removed Egypt from the Arab Israeli equation as Israel's most powerful opponent was no longer a threat. Many historians believe that the agreement freed up Israel to fight wars on other fronts, most notably against the Palestinians. Peace with Egypt empowered Israel to pursue Palestinian militants more aggressively, even chasing them into the Lebanon and advancing as far as Beirut in 1982. It is highly unlikely that they could have done this if Egypt was still the hostile enemy to the south.

The Treaty was not so popular in Egypt. While Egyptian nationalists were please at the complete return of the Egyptian Sinai which so much blood had been spilt over, many others saw the treaty as a sell out of the Arab and Palestinian cause. In the Arab world Egypt was accused of capitulation and was expelled from the Arab League. President Sadat in particular was demonized as an appeaser of Israeli aggression.

President Sadat
President Sadat was admired in the west as a peace maker, not so among the Muslim masses. On the 6th of October 1981 Egypt was holding its annual military parade in Cairo. During the parade a troop truck that was participating halted in front of the presidential podium, several soldiers jumped out and opened fire on the President and the many dignitaries in attendance. President Sadat was killed along with eleven others. Among those injured was Irish Defence Minister James Tully who was hit in the face with shrapnel.

The Assassination of President Sadat

Menachem Begin
Begin served as Israeli Prime Minister until 1983. During his subsequent time in office he would invade Lebanon and bomb Iraq's nuclear sites in Osirak. He was also the main advocate of the extremely controversial policy of expanding Jewish settlements into the West Bank. He died in 1992 aged 79.

Jimmy Carter
The 39th president is still with us today and only last week was at the white house meeting with National Security Advisor James Jones. Carter is highly respected world wide and the 84 year old won the Nobel peace prize in 2003 for the efforts of The Carter Center to oversee democratic elections in the third world. He has courted controversy in recent times because of his books which are highly critical of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza. Right wing Pro Israeli groups regularly accuse him of being an anti Semite. During the last year he has met with Hamas leaders in an attempt to get them to commit to a cease fire. This has led to outrage among some Israelis who see him as an apologist for terrorism.


Zaki said...

It is a shame that Egypt does not celebrate the anniversary of the peace treaty. At least in Israel they are talking about it and reflecting (if not celabrating the peace) on positive side which is the cessation of wars and all that ensued from them in terms of death and destruction.

In Egypt there is more anger and beligerence instead of joy and serene reflection on what the peace treaty had brought to the Egyptian masses. It is as if it brought them nothing. They do not seem to reckon what the treaty had avoided and still avoid in terms of negative consequences.

I surely understand that it brought shame for which they will probably never recover. How can a tiny country of "feable" and "cowardly" jewish people could strick a severe blow to the mighty arab armies of 1960's. It is still uncomprehensible to some. And they need to accept the fact that modern armies do not operate in the same fashion as the mightiest armies of islam of yesteryears.

What is most damaging at this treaty anniversary is that there are also vocal muslim discourse about future war path to usher in the real peace which is the end of Israeli occupation and liberation of Jerusalem. And that's a shame ...

Anonymous said...

"Camp" David

Robert J. Avrech said...


Take a look at this:

Ted Leddy said...

Hey Zaki

I'm terribly sorry it took so long to respond to your comment. Its no way for a host to behave. But I have finished my exams so I'm back updating my blog to three or four times a day.

It is true. Israelis view the treaty much more favourably that the Egyptians. You're second point is very clever. Had they not made peace with Israel they would have ended up in several skirmishes with Israel throughout the 80s and 90s and would probably be living in a much more unstable country today. However I think its a real shame the Mubarak did not follow the treaty with some real democratic reform because lets face it, its an ageing corrupt dictatorship.

It is true. How can Israel a nation of seven million people defeat Egypt, a nation of 80 million. The Islamic extremists would say its because there is an international conspiracy designed to undermine Islam. They would argue that the solution is to do away with the nationalist state which has failed as a concept and replace it with an Islamic one. Only a state based on Islamic principles is capable of defeating its enemies.

It is a shame. Its a pity they are not celebrating the treaty as something that illustrates that peace can work. Instead many see it as proof that defeating Israel cannot be achieved through modern military tactics.

Ted Leddy said...

Yes Aido

Camp David was named after former President Eisenhower's grandson named David. Apparently he was quite "camp".

Ted Leddy said...


Thank you for the link. Its always great to have you on my humble blog.

Interesting article by soccer dad. I suppose its normal that the Egyptians would see the treaty differently. It reminds me of the 1998 peace treaty in Northern Ireland. The catholics see it as a stepping stone to a united Ireland where as the protestants believe it secures the union with Britain. They can't both be right.

But I suppose that's when you know you have a good peace treaty... when both sides think they have won.