On the 17th September 1978 the Camp David Accords, which led to the first ever peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state, were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Brokered by US President Jimmy Carter, the two frameworks that were agreed upon gained their name from the Presidential retreat at Camp David where the negotiations took place.

Having accepted Carter’s invitation to attend talks, Begin didn’t expect to leave with anything more than a framework for future meetings. Egypt and Israel had been at war for a number of years, and the likelihood of reaching any agreement was slim.

Over a period of thirteen days, the three leaders engaged in a number of heated discussions that broke down to the point where Carter needed to meet with each leader separately. At times both leaders threatened to scrap the talks, but Carter succeeded in being able to salvage the situation and keep them at Camp David. The political cost of leaving without an agreement was certainly in the forefront of each man’s mind – nobody wanted to shoulder the blame for the collapse of the Middle East peace process.

The talks concluded with the signing of two separate agreements – “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East” and “A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel”. The former was condemned by the UN for being conducted without involvement of the Palestinians, and the second led to Sadat’s assassination by Islamic extremists who were angered that he had made peace with Israel.

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© Scott Allsop