03 Sep Camp David Accords: A Victory for Israel and Egypt
On September 17, 1978, history was made by two courageous men with a common goal: peace between Cairo and Jerusalem, ending the destructive pattern of five previous wars. The two courageous men were Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, both had met secretly for twelve days to negotiate the framework which would lead to 40+ years of cooperation and peace. The honeymoon of friendship, real friendship, between Sadat and Begin, would end just years later when Anwar Sadat was assassinated by a Khalid Islambouli—a terrorist influenced by Islamic fundamentalism. The loss of Sadat would lead to decades of Egyptian setbacks and instability, though the world’s victory of 1978 has not been forgotten in the minds of Israelis and people whom strive for peace all over the world.
The Camp David Accords were only five years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a sequel in the series of Arab-Israeli wars, fought over Israel’s right to exist. As President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat had followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Gamal Abdel Nassar, a fierce advocate against the world’s only Jewish state. To prove himself a strongman as well as an anti-Israel leader, the Egyptians and Syrians prepared together to launch an attack to “to recover all Arab territory occupied by Israel following the 1967 war and to achieve a just, peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
The setting of the Yom Kippur War were the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territories which were taken from Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War as an act of self-defense against the genocidal intentions of the Arab states. These territories were also part of the homeland of the Jewish people. At the beginning, the Israelis were surprised with the Arab states’ willingness to fight, though October 6, 1973 was the day that guns started firing, and after almost three weeks, the Israelis had won a decisive victory.
In 1973, the Israel Defense Forces had defended the Jewish people and sustained the Jewish state, however, it was in 1978 that the Israel Defense Forces truly won. Their victory was the fact that their job in the Sinai Peninsula had ended, for generations, parents of IDF soldiers would not have to worry about their son or daughter protecting them from Taba or Sharm El-Sheikh. It was Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the former leader of the Irgun, the Jewish defense organization dedicated to defending Jews during several Arab Revolts during the era of the British Mandate of Palestine, was the one to sign the peace agreement.
Before the official signing, President Sadat significantly visited Israel and spoke to the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament). Prime Minister Begin also was able to visit Egypt after the treaty in 1979. In Washington D.C., the bilateral treaty “Framework for Peace in the Middle East” was signed, facilitated by American President Jimmy Carter. In 1978, both Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat were jointly awarded The Noble Peace Prize, an honor given for their ability to cooperate on the same side for peace, a peace that still holds today.
Today, Egypt and Israel cooperate economically on trade, on intelligence and security matters, as well as maintaining and sustaining common resources. The two nations are closer than ever today, with many Egyptian clerics calling for more public diplomacy with Israel. The 1978 Camp David Accords were the start of the bigger Middle East peace process, leading to Israel’s 1994 peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and today’s closer relations with the Gulf Arab states. The Friends of Zion Museum salutes the leaders whom have brought peace to the Israel, her neighbors and the world alike!