In an historic trip to Israel on November 19, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat offered to make peace with Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from the lands captured from Egypt in 1967. For the first time in thirty years of bloody conflict and five all-out wars, the head of an Arab state stretched out his hand for peace and recognition. The subsequent failure of the sides to make any progress in talks after this dramatic visit led to President Carter’s initiation of the Camp David Summit in September 1978. After thirteen days of talks at the secluded presidential retreat in Maryland, during which the sides slowly moved closer and narrowed the gulf between their demands, the Camp David Accords were signed in Washington on September 17, 1978. In fact, two separate documents were signed. One, entitled “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East”, focused on West Bank and Gaza and laid the framework for future negotiation on those territories. The second, entitled “A Framework for the conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt” dealt with the future of the Sinai and arrangements for concluding peace between Israel and Egypt within three months. It defined all aspects of withdrawal from the Sinai, military arrangements in the penninsula, freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal and normalization of relations. On March 26, 1979, Israelis and Egyptians gathered in Washington in the garden on the White House, for the signing of the Peace Treaty (1). The staged Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula was completed in 1982.

The geographical dimensions of Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. - The Sinai is three times Israel's size and was returned to Egypt in 1982, a country fifty times its size, with a population ten times Israel's. Israel took an enormous risk to its security for a peace treaty.

(1) Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. For personal accounts of the Camp David Talks see Moshe Dayan, Breakthrough, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981 and Jimmy Carter,Keeping Faith, Bantam Books, 1982

 

 

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26 Apr 2015 / 7 Iyar 5775 0