The Camp David Accords (September 1978) and the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (March 1979)
Since its establishment in 1948, the principle of direct negotiations has been a cornerstone of Israel's foreign policy. Israel's efforts to meet face to face with the Arabs were, however, rejected: the Arab states were not prepared for direct negotiation with Israel.
In November 1977, Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, accepted the invitation of the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister, Menahem Begin for face-to-face dialogue and came to Jerusalem. Sadat's historical trip to Jerusalem marked a decisive turning point in the Arab-Israel conflict.
On September 17, 1978, twelve days of secret negotiations between Israel and Egypt at Camp David, the American presidential retreat in Marlyland, were concluded by the signing of two agreements at the White House.
- In the first agreement, both sides declared the termination of the state of war between the two countries. In return for peace and normal relations, Israel agreed to withdraw from Sinai and Gaza Strip.
- In the second agreement both sides agreed to negotiate Palestinian measures in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip.
The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was signed on March 26 1979, in Washington D.C., by Israel Prime Minister Menahem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. American President Jimmy Carter signed as a witness.
The Israel-Egypt peace pact was denounced by the other Arab states. More than a decade passed before another major advance to end the Israel-Arab conflict took place.
The Madrid Conference (October 1991)
International events in the beginning of the 1990's -- mainly the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War -- led the Arab world to change its attitude toward Israel and to enter into negotiations aimed at opening up a new era in the Middle East.
On October 30, 1991, a conference co-sponsered by the United States and the former Soviet Union was convened in Madrid, designed to serve as an opening forum for the future bilateral and multilateral negotiations of all sides involved in the Middle East conflict. The Madrid Conference, which lasted three days, was attended by delegations from Israel, the Arab states, and Palestinian representatives.
- Since the Madrid Conference, the direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Arab states have resulted in the conclusion of a Peace Treaty with Jordan (see Israel Jordan Peace Treaty* ).
- The negotiations with the Palestinians led, in September 1993, to mutual recognition [Oslo I] and, in September 1995, to the Israel Palestine Interim Agreement (see Israel-Palestinian Agreements*).
- The negotiations with Syria and Lebanon became deadlocked.