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Camp David Accords: Summary and Significance

Anup Patwardhan
The relations between Israel and its neighboring Arab nations have been strained for many years now. This has, time and again, led to many conflicts between the Arab world and the Jewish nation. The Camp David Accords is an example of the many attempts to forge peace in the Middle East. This post takes a look at the summary and significance of these accords.

Did You Know?

The meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during WWII, as well as the one between Dwight Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, are some of the very important meetings that have been held at Camp David in the past.
The conflict in the Middle East has been raging for decades, and the lack of any political stability in recent times has made it even more difficult to find any solution towards lasting peace in the area. Owing to this, this area, sacred to three religions that preach peace, has had its recent history painted in the scarlet of blood.
Over the years, however, there have been various initiatives taken by various warring parties to put an end to the violence that is so rampant in the region. Most of these attempts have been negotiated through the efforts of a mediating nation or the United Nations.

History Before the Camp David Accords

Since the Jewish state of Israel had come into existence, four wars have been fought between Israel and Egypt. The first war was a part of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, also known as 'Israel's War of Independence'.
During the course of this war, Arab nations like Jordan and Syria, along with Egypt, had attacked Israel as soon as it ceased to be the British Mandate.

The second war that was fought between Israel and Egypt was in 1956.
Egypt had expelled most of its Jewish community earlier in the same year, and also had closed the Straits of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli use. In response, Israel, with English and French support, invaded the Sinai Peninsula and captured it along with Gaza.
However, owing to the pressure from the United Nations, it had to withdraw from captured Egyptian territories.

The third war between the two nations was the 'Six-Day War' that was fought in the year 1967.
Israel had launched a preemptive attack on Egypt and other Arab nations that shared boundaries with Israel. The offensive forces were successful in seizing the Sinai Peninsula from the Egyptians.

The fourth war was the 'Yom Kippur War' that was fought in the year 1973.
This war started with Egypt and Syria launching a coordinated offensive on Israel to gain back the territories that they had lost during the 'Six-Day War'. The Egyptians were successful at the beginning of the war in penetrating and recapturing the Sinai Peninsula that was under the control of Israel.


Anwar El Sadat, the then president of Egypt, after the 'Yom Kippur War', had realized that peace could be achieved only through diplomatic talks and not through war. In 1977, he became the first head of an Arab nation to visit Israel. During this visit, Sadat was also invited to address the 'Knesset' (Israeli parliament).
Building on this progress, there were intermittent talks between the neighboring nations over the course of the following year. These talks though, had reached a deadlock, and to overcome this stalemate, Jimmy Carter, the then president of the United States, invited premiers of both the countries to Camp David in September 1978.

Summary of the Camp David Accords

The heads of America, Egypt, and Israel met at Camp David, Maryland, on September 5, 1978. The negotiations then continued for the next 13 days, and often needed the intervention of Jimmy Carter to avoid the negotiations from crumbling down.
Two frameworks were agreed upon as a part of the Accords; one for peace in the Middle East, and the other for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
According to the framework for achieving peace in the Middle East, the talks to find solutions to the Palestine issue were to continue, and these would also include representatives from Jordan and Palestine. A self-government was to be introduced in the West Bank and Gaza within the following five years.
This would mark the beginning of the transitional phase, and three years into it the status of the West Bank and Gaza was to be finalized, along with concluding a peace treaty with Israel and Jordan by the end of this transitional phase. During this transitional phase, the Israeli military government and civilians would withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza.
The forces from Jordan and Israel were to conduct joint patrols to ensure security at the borders. Jordan played an important role in these negotiations, as it provided refuge to many of the displaced Palestinians.
The steps that would be taken towards the conclusion of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel did include normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Israel had to withdraw its troops and settlements from the Sinai Peninsula that it had captured during the Six-Day War.
This withdrawal was to be done over a span of three years that followed the Accords. Egypt would demilitarize the Sinai Peninsula area, and provide a free passage to Israel in the Suez Canal, Gulf of Aqaba, and Straits of Tiran. Israel was to provide a free passage between Egypt and Jordan near Eilat.


The Camp David Accords were the first attempt at negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East. The Accords signed on September 17, 1978, led to the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in the following year, which brought down the curtains on a conflict that had lasted for the better part of three decades since the British Mandate.
For their efforts at establishing peace in the volatile region, Sadat, and Menachem Begin, the then prime minister of Israel, shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 1978.

Both the nations were to receive billions of dollars from the United States in the form of aid and grants, along with the help that Egypt was to receive in modernizing its military.
These Accords also helped to an extent in reducing Israel's worries on the border that it shared with Egypt.

The other Arab countries were not so welcoming of these Accords, and were of the opinion that fake peace had been established between Egypt and Israel.
For his efforts at establishing peace, Sadat was assassinated on October 6, 1981, by the radical Islamic Egyptian Jihad.
The signing of the Accords in 1978 had not only established peace between the two neighbors but also paved the way for the Oslo Accords of 1993, and the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty in 1994, which further helped in reducing the violence that wreaked havoc in the region.