The Egypt-Israel agreement marked a milestone in terms of bringing peace to the Middle East. The agreement was brokered by President Jimmy Carter and was later signed in 1979 by the then Egypt president Anwar Sadat and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and came to be commonly referred to as the Camp David Accords (Princen 57). This marked the end to more than four wars that both Egypt and Israel fought in the period between 1948 and1979. In particular, the 1979 treaty sought to normalize Egypt-Israel relations in an endeavor to resolve the conflict situation between the two nations. In addition, the accord required Israel to withdraw its civilians and armed forces from the Sinai Peninsula that Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967 (McMahon and Miller 41). On the other side, Egypt had agreed to make Sinai a demilitarized zone and allowed the free passage of Israel ships through the Suez Canal. In addition, Egypt was required to recognize the Gulf of Aqaba and the Straits of Tiran as an international waterway.
Did the Camp David Accord resolve the Egypt-Israel conflict? In addition, did the accord lead to long term peace in both countries? What role did the Camp David Accord play in peacemaking in the Middle East region?
This paper will analyze whether leadership plays a part in conflict resolution and peacemaking by examining the activities that led to the Camp David Accord. In addition, this paper will analyze the role that the U.S. played in resolving the conflict between both countries, as well as the assistance that they gave in order to ensure the successful implementation of the peace accord.
To be able to effectively research on the Camp David Accord, we will consider the war between both countries as the independent variable with the accord and peace, which is a byproduct of the accord as the dependent variables of the study. This is because the war forced both parties to negotiate a peace deal to end the hostilities. It is a long term effect of the conflict that may have explained the decision by both parties to forego certain interests that previously caused the wars. We believe that this would play a critical role in the analysis of the accord.
A study conducted by Mitchell Bard did not only give an overview of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, but provided a background of the events that led to the signing of the accord. The author argued that the source of the conflict was majorly due to the declaration of Israel as an independent country. It is only when the war affected the economies of both countries that they showed commitment to make peace (Bard 52). Another author, Eagle (2002) embraced a behavioral perspective to explain the Camp David Accord and by extension international negotiations. This was due to the acclamation by most of the foreign policy scholars that the success of the accord was due to Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s negotiating tactics (Eagle 412). Conversely, political historians have commented that the accords did not merely fail to improve Arab-Israel relations, but have also exacerbated the already existing enmity between nations (Brams and Togman 100). The author questioned whether the accord was due to the large U.S. financial package that both Egypt and Israel were to obtain that may have forced them into negotiating. In conclusion, the author identifies that the Camp David accord was to resolve tangible disputes rather than material objectives.
The accords had significance influence on the Arab-Israel diplomacy as they turned them into full-blown efforts of realizing peace in the region (Rabinovich 25). Rabinovich posited that by extending diplomatic recognition to Israel and signing of the treaty of peace as well as establishment of normal relations with a country that Arab states had refused to recognize previously, Egypt led by her President had violated an Arab taboo enforced by consensus for more than thirty years (25).
The Camp David Accords had two major segmentations: (I) an agreement between Israel and Egypt to terminate bilateral dispute that had existed between them for many years and (II) a framework that laid down the principles for resolving the conflict between Palestinians and Israelites as well as Israel’s dispute with the other Arab neighbors. However, Rabinovich argued that the two parts did not have equal importance. Israel’s prime minister and Egypt’s president were principally interested in their bilateral agreement, thus they saw to its execution (21). However, the leaders, especially Anwar Sadat were not fully supported by the other Arab countries. According to the Arab’s world, Sadat had broken the ranks by making separate peace with their enemy Israel. Therefore, he suffered the consequences such as vilified and denounced while Egypt was ejected from the Arab League as many Arab countries cut off their diplomatic relations with her capital (Rabinovich 22).
Betrayal accusations against Sadat by the Arab states made him to react angrily. He never perceived himself as a failure or a betrayer but as a pathfinder to the peace of the Middle East. According to Rabinovich, the president was convinced that the only way that the region would regain the territories lost earlier in the 60s would be through ending the long conflict with Israel (Rabinovich 26). The author noted that although Assad and others accused Sadat of being careless as well as ineffective in negotiations, he only retorted that such critics were small-minded whose focus was on minor details, thus failed to see the bigger picture. Sadat was convinced that his critics would eventually follow his path of peace and would not resist the forthcoming relations between Israel and Arab world.
On the other hand, Begin had seen the accords as an opportunity to exploit the opportunity that had been created in 1967 for resolving the 1948 conflict on Egyptian front (Rabinovich 26). He proved that leaders can play a very vital role in resolving conflicts and restoring peace by signing the peace agreement with Egypt, which served as the most important breakthrough within the Israeli-Arab relations to date. However, this was not without a price to pay for the desired peace and the end of the war. Although Egypt was willing to offer full peace to the Israelites and to have generous security arrangements, Israel was required to pay the price of surrendering the whole region of Sinai to Sadat (Rabinovich 26). For peace to prevail in the region, both leaders had no option but to make sacrifices: It was a “give and take” kind of a deal that would facilitate the establishment of peaceful interaction between the two countries.
By dealing with the particular item responsible for the war, Sadat and Begin were successful in dealing with the conflict in the region and cultivating an environment of peace. In their works, Ramsbotham, Woodhouse and Miall posited that although wars and conflicts are caused by diverse issues, every conflict situation should be examined in its peculiarity (125). Drawing from A.J.P. Taylor’s exploration of conflict and restoration of peace, the authors argued that wars may result from different causes but every specific conflict or war is a product of a specific issue, disparity or disagreement (Ramsbotham et al. 125). Just as in a courtroom where a judge looks at a specific accident in relation to its specific cause such as a driver’s error, faulty brake system, or excessive speed, every conflict situation must be examined in relation to its specific trigger. For example, in the case of Egypt-Israel conflict, the whole conflict revolved around the Sinai and Suez Canal that had been taken by Israel. Therefore, the two leaders involved in the peace pursuit had to centre their discussion on the issue of Sinai if war issue was to be addressed.
According to the works of Quandt, the Camp David Accords served as a significant turning point for the history of Middle East (1). Although the move was praised by many for its role in laying the foundation of peace between Israel and Egypt, it also received immense criticism from different quotas for its failure to achieve a comprehensive settlement, which would have included resolution of the Palestinian long-standing and disturbing question. However, the critics and supporters alike recognized the importance of what had taken place at Camp David even as both groups acknowledged the critical role played by the U.S in reaching an agreement (Quandt 1).
As time goes by and the history of Middle East advances into new levels, it has become easier for various stakeholders, including historians and peace advocates to assess Camp David’s legacy, although a final verdict cannot be rendered. For instance, the spirit of the peace treaty between the two countries has been respected by both Israel and Egypt although the full promise of peace as well as normal and cohesive relations is yet to be achieved. Quandt while seeking to analyze the relations posited that “A cold peace best describes Egyptian-Israeli relations in the mid-1980s, and some still fear that resumption of a cold war cannot be precluded” (1). However, what is evident is that the Camp David Accords had intense effect on the inter-Arab relations and led to the strains between Egypt’s capital and many of Arab’s capitals. According to Quandt, it was not possible to separate Egypt from Arab’s mainstream politics, thus by mid 1980s, the country had resumed diplomatic relations with several of Arab countries and expanded the informal ties with some others without having to renounce peace with Israel (1-2).
In his exploration of the relations between Israel and Arab countries, Rabinovich posited that Camp David accords’ success was only limited to resolving the bilateral dispute between the two parties involved (25). However, the author noted that some minor problems between the two countries were not settled. He further observed that the elaborate formula for dealing with the Palestinian concern through the creation of an autonomous regime for Gaza and West Bank remains a dead letter. This is despite the fact that the general principle for establishment of transitional arrangements allowing Palestinians to participate in the negotiations for final agreement with their opponents has been extensively conventional (Rabinovich 25).
According to Quandt, during the signing of the treaty at Camp David, many people believed that this was the key to resolving the conflict in the region and ending the war in the Middle East (2). The leaders believed that by pursuing peace, Egypt had created a path that would be followed by the rest of Arab world and if they chose not to walk in the same path, at least the war in the region would have been ended. However, the limits of “no more war” slogan which had emerged from Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977 were made clear in 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon. This implies that sometimes in addressing a conflict situation, the proponents may fail to address some issues or leave a loophole that could lead to reemergence of conflict or war (Ramsbotham et al. 126).
In their study of conflict and peaceful change, Ramsbotham et al. observed that “one of the aims of conflict resolution endeavor is to increase the range of situations where violence is not a possibility” (126). Such encompasses creation of an environment where there are unwavering expectations of serene change. Preventive conflict resolution is the most desirable approach especially in an area that has been characterized by conflict and wars. This approach encompasses resolving of conflicts prior to their transformation to violence and war and creating relations, structures and contexts between and among the involved parties which make aggression less likely, and ultimately inconceivable.
According to Ramsbotham et al., a new conflict often emerges as a result of social changes (126). Such changes may include economic changes reversing relative fortunes of a certain group of people, discovery of new resources, thus making a boundary that was previously unclear boundary of great significance, or a newly developed belief system that tend to be incompatible with a previous one (Ramsbotham et al. 126). As people respond to the changes, they collectively define actions and goals, mobilizing support and often forming novel parties or groups for pursuance of such goals. If the goals become incompatible with those of the other people and groups, a conflict is formed. Sometimes the incompatibility of the goals may be so severe that the relationship of the parties is broken causing structural disparity, which may trigger violence between the conflicting parties.
When such happens, the role of leaders as mediators becomes incontestable. According to an article by Jones (54), a leader of any community of people must always be prepared to deal with emerging conflicts, especially before they mature to aggression. The mediating role of a leader may occur at individual level, group level or between different groups of people either in an organization or at community context. In a conflict situation, the leader’s role is intervention whereby one employs his/her formal or informal authority in forcing the parties to discuss the subject of conflict or opts to listen to both parties and advise them accordingly on how to resolve the issue. For any successful resolving of a conflict, the leader must analyze both the immediate and remote causes of the conflict before determining the potential effects of various possible actions (Jones 54). In this regard, during the signing of Camp David Accords, Begin and Sadat had to play the important role of being their people’s representative under the witnessing of President Jimmy Carter (Sadat 84-85). The two leaders had to analyze the situation during the 13 days negotiations before the creation of the 2 framework agreements.
When conflicts emerge, leaders have a duty to address them before they turn into aggression. One of the most crucial parts in conflict resolution and pursuance of peace is definition of the goals. It must be very to the conflicting parties what each party hopes to achieve and what the shared goals are for the two parties (Ramsbotham et al. 126). Ramsbotham et al. posited that at this early juncture, the parties have an opportunity of pursuing the conflict either negatively/destructively or positively. They may agree on the goals or decide to take each others’ goals independently or collectively. For example, in the case of Egypt and Israel, they might not have agreed about the Sinai Peninsula, each side wanting to keep it for themselves but they were in consensus that they both wanted peace in their respective nations and in the region (Kimmerling 217). Actually, the reason as to why they had come together for a discussion is because believed in the goal of peace despite their pessimism on its practicality (Carter 1). Often, the conflicting parties frame their respective goals in terms of their individual as well as collective interests, which may be a point of disparity. However, the extent to which the respective goals are coordinated is a major determinant of whether they are likely to avert the conflict (Ramsbotham et al. 126-127).
Ramsbotham et al. noted that during conflict resolution, the parties involved may not agree on the goals, which may adversely affect the peace process (177). The author posited that it is important to correct the common misperception that resolution of conflicts rests upon the assumption of harmony of the interests of the actors and that the mediators can resolve conflicts through appealing to underlying humanity or to the voice of reason of the parties. Ramsbotham et al. observed that on the contrary, the process of conflict transformation calls for real changes in the self-destinations, goals and interests of the parties involved (177). For example, after three days of negations during the Camp David summit, the discussions came to a halt as direct discourse between Egypt’s president and Israel’s Prime Minister became impossible.
In the early stages of their discussions, it was determined that the two Middle East leaders had divergent goals and none was ready to make a compromise or change his self-destinations to accommodate the needs of the other (Carter 1). The Kind of peace that Sadat had anticipated was very different from what Begin had in mind (Rabinovich 25). The author noted that United States was to play a very critical role in reconciling the two leaders especially in helping them formulate policies that were agreeable to both sides. The role of United States was specifically mediation-cum-arbitration in the give-and-take kind of discussions.
Sometimes, however, failure to arrive at a consensus between the conflicting parties is not only caused by issues of disparity but also by emerging changes. Ramsbotham et al., therefore, argued that for the parties to be able to arrive at a consensus, a conflict resolution approach that seeks to address the issues of disparity as well as the necessary social, political, and psychological changes must be adopted (177). Such an approach seeks to address the root causes of the conflict, the intra-party conflicts, which are likely to inhibit reception of settlement, the regional as well as global context structuring the conflict issues, the parties’ thoughts and the institutional and social capacity, which determine the acceptability of the settlement to the members of the different parties.
Such was the kind of conflict resolution approach that was employed by President Carter especially after the discussions reached an impasse because the parties could not agree on a number of issues. Carter complied a document comprising of the various agreed upon resolutions especially on the major issues and presented it to Begin and Sadat separately. He assessed their respective comments in relation to the previously explained conflict resolution approach and redrafted the manuscript uncountable times, shuttling the manuscript over and over for review (Gherman 78-78). At a certain point, Sadat had threatened to abandon the discussions, as settlement appeared narrower. Even President Carter was at a point of giving up but during the final day, the two parties arrived at a consensus on various issues that had seemed impossible to agree upon (Carter 1). As was the case during the signing of the Camp David Accords, sometimes conflict resolution has to involve a compromise either by both sides or at least by one of the parties (Ramsbotham et al. 202). Israel Prime Minister compromised his position by allowing Knesset to decide Sinai Peninsula’s fate, which made it possible for the two parties to sign the peace agreement (Carter 1).
Purpose of the Study
The Camp David summit and the subsequent signing of the treaty were very important as far as the relationship between Arab countries and Israel was concerned. The region had suffered conflict and war for several decades and many people from both sides had suffered terribly, causing numerous deaths and destruction of properties. The very consent of Egypt president and Israel Prime Minister to have a sitting and discuss the issues affecting their region was somewhat a huge step towards peace especially because Egypt and other Arab countries did not recognize Israel as a state. The discussions and the accords between the two leaders of Middle East were the determinant of whether the region would know peace again and whether the strained relationship would be amended. The Camp David Accords served as the first ever peace agreement between the Arabs and Israelites. The accords were characterized by Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Sinai Peninsula, which she had captured during the 1967’s Six-Day War and Egypt’s formal recognition of Israel’s statehood.
Therefore, this study sought to fulfill a number of purposes in regard to the relations of the Middle East with particular attention to Egypt and Israel. One of the purposes of this study is to evaluate whether the Camp David accords served their purpose, which was to resolve the conflict and end subsequent war between Israel and Egypt. Moreover, the study sought to determine whether the accords led to long-term peace between the two Middle East countries. Equally important for the study was to determine the role of these accords in restoring peace in the region of Middle East especially between Israel and various Arab nations. The paper will also seek to understand the role played by United States towards the signing of the accords in an endeavor to restore peace in the Middle East.
The sources of data for this study will be both primary and secondary. The primary sources of the data will be information gathered through case study approach whereby the current situation and relations between Egypt and Israel will be examined. Through media such as BBC and CNN as well as newspaper articles covering on the peace situation in the Middle East, the researcher will examine whether the contents of the peace treaty are implemented in the region by the two nations. Another source of primary data will be President Carter’s interviews on the discussions and the accords.
The secondary source of data will include various literatures that have explored the Camp David summit’s results, the implementation of the accords, and the challenges that may have affected the implementation process. Such literatures include magazines, historical, political and international relations books, government publications, journals as well as other publications on specific policies in the two countries assessing and interpreting the accords.
The researchers will identify various sources of primary data as mentioned earlier and narrow down their search to the situation in the Middle East and various literatures discussing the relations between Egypt and Israel. Journal articles for this study will be retrieved from various academic databases, including Sage Journals Online, Wiley InterScience, JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, and EBSCO eBook Collection. Various online libraries will provide ideal sources for published books discussing the Camp David summit and accords. Some website articles from credible authors will also provide ideal sources of data for the study. The researcher will record the information in readiness for qualitative data analysis in an endeavor to answer the research questions. The gathering of the data will endeavor to determine the effectiveness of the accords in restoring peace in the Middle East and resolving conflict situation between Israel and Egypt. Moreover, the process will seek to examine whether long-term peace resulted from the Camp David peace treaty.
This kind of study is characterized by a few limitations, some of which may affect the final findings of the study. The use of secondary data is the most common data collection method in most of qualitative studies. Although the approach has a number of advantages associated to it, some outstanding weaknesses may affect this study. For example, failure to thoroughly scrutinize the authors or the process that was employed in gathering the data may interfere with the quality of the research. As noted earlier in the literature review section, some authors saw the Camp David accords as fruitful in realizing their objectives of creating cohesiveness in the Middle East region while others perceived them accords as the cause of greater disparity between various nations in the region. This implies that there may be some form of biasness among some authors in regard to evaluation of the situation in the region and the role of the treaty towards overcoming conflicts.
Equally notable in dealing with secondary data is the fact that the data may not directly address the needs of the researcher. Every author is guided by a specific reason in gathering information for his/her literature which may not meet the needs of another researcher. Therefore, the information recorded in various literatures may not be accurate in responding to the specific questions of this particular study. Moreover, some of the data may not be valid because it may not be timely (“Marketing Research” 1). For example, data collected immediately after the signing of the Camp David accords may have been inaccurate because the author examined the effectiveness of the accords before they had time to be fully implemented. Moreover, data recorded many years later may have missed some specific successes or failures along the implementation process.
After the data has been collected through the diversified methods and techniques, it must be analyzed in order to make sense. This study shall employ qualitative data analysis approach in making sense of the study’s findings. The goal of this stage is to analytically reduce the data by producing abstracts, summaries, memos and coding. The researcher will also seek to identify ways through which the data will be displayed and draw conclusions in relation to the research questions. During the analysis, the researcher will search for commonalities as well as contradictions of information about the Camp David accords from various primary and secondary sources. The conceptual reduction approach, which involves thinking through the meaning through coding, followed by making sense of the data, and finally re-coding will be involved.
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